Tweet-apalooza Continues

Apr 3, 2009 at 3:38 pm

After CityBeat was criticized for “factual errors” in an article about The Cincinnati Enquirer’s new social media strategy by one of that newspaper’s editors, we offered her the opportunity early Thursday to elaborate and she responded today.—-

In reviewing Social Media Editor Mandy Jenkins’ complaint about the article, it’s clear CityBeat did make one error that probably could’ve been caught before publication if we let our Webmaster read the piece and not just a bunch of tech-challenged writers and copy editors.

Jenkins’ other complaints? Meh, not so much.

The remainder of her response is mostly about after-the-fact changes to the policy and matters of interpretation. Still, we’re glad to provide her some space for her views.

Jenkins’ rightfully notes that we mistook a Twitter application, known as “DestroyTwitter,” for a Twitter screen name.

“DestroyTwitter is not a Twitter persona of anyone, judging from looking at (a Web site),” Jenkins wrote. “I only know it as the name of a Twitter desktop application — the one I use at the office.”

Point well-taken.

But Jenkins disliked that we said The Enquirer planned to rely on unpaid labor — specifically local bloggers — to provide content.

“(Y)our print article said we intend to rely on unpaid labor to fill our gaps in coverage,” she wrote. “At this point, we completely intend to pay the bloggers we work with in one way or another. We're still doing some research on how payment would be calculated and what would be preferable to bloggers.”

CityBeat stands by its article in that regard. Jenkins’ March 13 memo to Enquirer and CiN Weekly editors includes almost five pages worth of material about the “blogger pull plan” and makes no mention of payment. The only compensation cited is help with advertising.

Jenkins also disliked that we mentioned old Enquirer blogs that remain accessible even though they haven’t been updated in months or years.

“You mentioned (a reporter’s) old Footnotes blog as an example of our in-house blogs,” Jenkins wrote. “Footnotes hasn't been linked on Cincinnat.Com since late 2007, so I'm not sure why it was even mentioned. It is still out there on search engines and everything, but it's merely part of the Internet archives now.”

Our reference was based on comments to us by several of our readers. Although Footnotes and some other blogs may not be listed on The Enquirer’s main page, readers who have those blogs bookmarked on their computers are still navigated there, with no indication that the blog has been deactivated or has ended; those unused sites haven’t been taken down.

The Enquirer’s social media strategy continues to evolve and change since the document was written, she added.

“(T)he blogs you listed as those we intend to contact were merely mentioned in the report as my own ideas in the early stages,” Jenkins wrote. “It's pretty out of date at this point and a lot of our priorities have changed.

“We haven't decided who we'll start working with just yet. Though I have been meeting with several local bloggers the past few weeks, at this point we're just testing the waters and getting feedback on what sort of arrangement would work best. I expect we'll really be ramping this effort up in the month of April — at least for the first phase.”

In a nice coincidence, comedian Stephen Colbert interviewed Biz Stone, Twitter’s co-founder, on his show Thursday night. Colbert called Stone “one of the preeminent twits in the United States” while questioning him about Twitter’s purpose.

“Why 140 characters?” Colbert asked. “Was texting too complex?”

“It’s really the messaging system that we didn’t know we needed until we had it,” Stone said.

“That sounds like the answer to a problem we didn’t have until I invented the answer,” Colbert replied.

Later, Colbert joked about the next wave in messaging. “How can we reduce this more? I’ve been on Twitter, have you been on Nothing? It’s so, so intuitive. The user interface, it’s like it does itself. It sends messages to people to let them know where you are while you do nothing.”

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