Tweet Happens

Apr 2, 2009 at 4:24 pm


Some Cincinnati Enquirer editors apparently are upset at this week’s CityBeat article about that newspaper’s new “social media strategy” and have flocked to its savior du jour — Twitter — to complain.

The article outlined how the strategy calls for The Enquirer to rely on unpaid labor to fill gaps in its news and entertainment coverage, make better use of the Facebook social networking site, require staffers to use Twitter to provide frequent updates about what they’re doing and create a Web site for news without The Enquirer’s name to lure readers who don’t like the newspaper.—-

All of the sections about the strategy were based on a 25-page memo written by Mandy Jenkins, the newspaper’s social media editor. The article quoted extensively from Jenkins’ memo, distributed to Enquirer and CiN Weekly editors on March 13.

Other sources in the article included two prominent local bloggers, Brian Griffin and Jason Haap, and Rich Boehne, CEO for The E.W. Scripps Co. More than 95 percent of the material directly involving The Enquirer came from Jenkins’ own memo, but she and others at the paper were upset that they weren’t contacted for the article.

Jenkins “tweeted” on Twitter about the article Wednesday, and was joined there by some digi-friends and associates.

Here’s their dialogue:

mjenkins would have been happy to answer @citybeatcincy's questions. Might have avoided some of those factual errors in this week's issue.

chrisbergman @mjenkins Zing!

@mjenkins I'm sure Kevin Osborne would love to talk to you- [email protected]. And please comment on the story to correct anything.

jammin230 once upon a time, reporters called sources to comment on leaked documents *before* a story was published.

jammin230 Seriously. Even when you know it's a "no comment," you still make the call when you write about a subject.

mjenkins @jammin230 Yeah, at our j-school, we were told to contact sources first, then write the story. Not the other way around.

robertlahue @mjenkins Wow, @citybeatcincy writes up something like that and doesn't call you? Journalism 101, Journalism 101...

For the record, Chris Bergman is a photographer whose work appears in Pause magazine, the Each Note Secure blog and CiN Weekly. Robert LaHue is affiliated with the Knight Digital Media Center. The identity of “Jammin230” remains a mystery.

Because Jenkins' voluminous strategy was 25 single-spaced pages long, not including another three pages of Twitter tips that was attached, CityBeat had far more material about the strategy than possibly could be used. Also, we wrote briefly about the strategy about a week earlier on this blog.

To provide a better idea of how much material was available, the strategy document was 7,864 words long and the Twitter tips attachment was 845 words — for a total of a whopping 8,709 words. (By comparison, CityBeat’s article was a mere 1,457 words.) Whatever journalism school Jenkins attended presumably didn’t tout the virtues of brevity.

As near as we can tell, what Jenkins and The Enquirer are actually irked about is they would’ve liked an opportunity to spin the memo and frame it in a more flattering light.

Regardless, CityBeat e-mailed Jenkins this morning asking her to detail what “factual errors” were included in the article. The e-mail was copied to Enquirer Online Editor Chris Graves. As of 4:30 p.m. Thursday, we hadn’t received a response despite also contacting Jenkins via Twitter.

In an interesting bit of timing, Mountain Xpress, the alt-weekly newspaper based in Asheville, N.C., posted an April Fool's Day stunt online telling readers that it was ending its print edition and Web site in favor of launching "the Twaper," an all-Twitter, all the time format.

"As we surf the tsunami of the unfolding media revolution, it’s become increasingly clear to us that the 140-character-long 'tweets' provided by you and your neighbors are the most apt approximation to date of the lightning-fast and cracklingly condensed neuronal flashes that are the root of all thought and, thus, all true community exchange," the mock editorial stated.

"Face it: In today’s fast-paced, multi-tasking, pause-and-you’ve-fallen-behind world, most of us simply don’t have the time to read long, rambling, 2,000-word print pieces," the prank continued. "In that same amount of time, we could be tweeting and aggregating our way to a whole new vision of community and even, perhaps, of dialogue itself. And thanks to Twitter’s technologically enforced brevity, it will almost be a 'conversation without words.'”

Back in Cincinnati, after Jenkins and her friends complained about the article, The Enquirer’s Twitter stream included this nugget about the newspaper possibly relying on a 14-year-old girl to help it cover the local music scene for them free of charge, an outgrowth of its new media strategy. This excerpt comes from tweeting by Tom Callinan, The Enquirer’s top editor, who calls the girl “wholesomely awesome.”

tcallinan This is way out of my demo. But if you are a teen music fan in Cincy or have/know any...folo @sassyincincy she is wholesomely awesome.

tcallinan Good 2C Qwitter hasn't sent me any un-folos since pimping @sassyincincy, our 14-year-old band writer. Hang in. It's a new media world.

tcallinan Q: @gamedayjreau Who is @sassyincincy? A: A kid. She's totally into local band scene. We are looking to her expertise to help us cover it

It’s reassuring to know that, despite all The Enquirer’s recent layoffs, the Jonas Brothers and Hannah Montana beats are covered.


UPDATE: After e-mailing Jenkins at 9:26 a.m. and sending a message via Twitter this afternoon, Jenkins finally tweeted a reply at about 5:45 p.m., after this blog item appeared.

"@mjenkins has been so swamped all day. @citybeatcincy will have to wait. I'm exhausted."