Sunday, March 01, 2009

If Dan Schorr can Twitter....

After this weekend, I don't want to hear that you think you're too old to use Twitter, because that's when Twitter met veteran journalist Daniel Schorr, National Public Radio's senior news analyst--a mashup of one smart 'old school' journalist of longstanding and a vast social media community, ill-defined, burgeoning and incredibly useful as a communications tool. Schorr, 92 years old and reporting for many decades, is one of the famed "Murrow boys" hired by Edward R. Murrow at CBS News. And this week, he was introduced to Twitter by NPR Weekend Edition host Scott Simon and NPR senior strategist for social media Andy Carvin, putting three generations together to make sense of the thing. (Go here to see video of the session.)

Simon and Carvin put out tweets asking folks on Twitter why they used it--Schorr's question--and got back interesting responses, including one that asked him what he thought people were gaining or losing from it. Schorr said:

"What we are losing is editing," Schorr said. "I grew up and nothing could be communicated to the outside world that didn't go through an editor to make sure you had your facts right, spelling right and so on. Now, every person is his or her own publisher and/or her own editor or her own reporter. And the world is full of people who are sending out what they consider to be news. It may be, it may not be, it may be made up and it doesn't matter anymore. That, to me, is the worst part of this. The discipline that should go with being able to communicate is gone."
That's true in many cases, but not all (check Carvin's article to see his examples of how Twitter helps news coverage, and I agree). Schorr compares this social-media community to the news-sharing marketplaces of ancient Greece, and now has a Twitter account.Carvin asked those of us already on Twitter for encouragement for this "newbie."

You can follow Schorr on Twitter here, and click on the links above to follow Simon and Carvin. While Schorr will get some staff help to answer his tweets, Simon and Carvin handle their own Twitterstreams. What's in it for NPR? Just what's in it for your business: Twitter lets you give your audiences a peek behind the scenes, advance notice, solicitations of input, and immediate contact to start or cement an ongoing relationship.

I'm a longtime Schorr follower, having assisted a broadcasting professor at Boston University, Murray Yaeger, whose dissertation is thought to be the first in broadcasting, analyzing Murrow's See It Now programs firsthand. Since I feel like a generational bridge between that world and this, I'm already impressed with how NPR's handling its social media efforts -- Carvin and Simon are naturals at it -- and hope they, and Schorr, will keep it up. Now, what was that bit about your age being a barrier?

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