I feel I should add a bit more about our Twitter feeds, an issue I mentioned briefly in my last post.
We started experimenting with Twitter very recently, after a complete redesign of Ceske Noviny and its sister publications (http://www.ceskenoviny.cz, http://www.financninoviny.cz, http://www.sportovninoviny.cz and for those still speaking only English at http://www.ceskenoviny.cz/news) which took place over the summer after a long and thorough preparation. Since I was not part of that (I was still in London), I can probably say with at least a little credibility, that I like the new design with some nifty features like using cleverly more of the metadata that is created together with our news copy and putting a lot of information at the fingertips of our readers.
Back to Twitter. Already when I was still in London I had started using Twitter and explore it both as a communication tool to catch up with some friends and acquaintances but also as a tool for a journalist. As a source it is clearly dependent on how many followers one has. After I discovered Twitter search engines and after one of these was incorporated in the Twitter “front-end” of my choice (TweetDeck), the benefits increased manifold. I could “watch” live anything that had the word “Czech” in it. Sure, mostly these are people going to a pub in this or that Czech place, some bragging about this or that Czech “beauty”, but there were several leads including, for instance one about earthquakes (of which we had a couple this autumn, of course well bellow the top league in the world but unsettling nevertheless).
So Twitter started to help me with my main “beat” (covering news connected to the Czech Republic, but also other issues of more general nature) and I started to discover interesting people to follow.
It was also clear that since Twitter is an “opt-in” world, we could try to use it the other way round – to bring our information to those that might be inclined to follow it through this new service. So we decided to try Twitter feeds from our Internet media (strictly speaking it is not our wire, that we are putting on Twitter, but the more limited content that we publish on Ceske Noviny through our subsidiary Neris). We are in the testing mode now – trying to figure out what is best and trying to have less and less of those tweets that are a bit of a gobbledygook, rather than a proper, meaningful message. We feel that we probably need to put another “channel” with only the top news.
The reasons for all this are blindingly obvious – one: to get more readers to our pages and two: to make following our news more comfortable for those, that already use Ceske Noviny. Of course since there is only one Czech Media with a Twitter presence, we do not mind being among the leaders here.
As long as the news agencies have the business model they have (selling news rather than eyeballs), there is no way how we (the Czech News Agency) can bring our news feed to Twitter, even though it could be extremely useful because of almost limitless personalisation thanks to our metadata. However for Neris, which is selling eyeballs, not news, the issue is pretty clear.
We already have certain ideas how to move forward. But first we must get some twitters – which is much tougher proposition in the “micro-universe” of Czech “twittersphere” than in the English one.
And the tweets?