Journalists react with questions and interest to Twitter’s new related headline feature


As we’ve seen in our fast-paced news world, misconceptions can spread quickly. Journalists’ original, somewhat harsh, reaction to Twitter’s new ‘related headlines’ were not all fully understanding the feature. Our previous post included some journalists’ remarks, which were updated once they learned what the feature really showed, which is related headlines in permalinks only. 

Controversy was stirred in the beginning. Some noteworthy responses included Caleb Garling's tweet saying that the this new feature is “so media company tone deaf that I almost believe Twitter wants to end embedded tweets.” 

And others, like Jay Rosen, originally agreed with this sentiment. Tweeting out, “Raise your hand if this will make it less likely that you will embed tweets in your posts and articles.” After Rosen was notified of the true placement of the feature, he changed his mind, noting, “The related stuff won’t show up on YOUR site if you embed, only on Twitter. Sorry: over-reacted.”

Megan McCarthy originally predicted that, “Publications will quickly stop embedding tweets and start using screenshots/links instead.” After learning about the actual placement of the related headlines, she softened her stance, asking, “In the post, it’s unclear that these links won’t show up on the sites that embed them. Can you assure that they never will?”

Kurt Gessler also had questions about the new feature, like, “Anyone test the algorithm behind them? Just raw or weighted RTs?” 

Ron Nurwisah had positive feedback, noting, “Boon for news outlets, adds context.” And Nick Dean seemed skeptical but positive about the new feature, tweeting, “could be good for news orgs- though a bit buried right now.”

Here’s how the related headlines section will appear on Twitter:


It seemed like the new feature may not be what we originally thought, just needed clarification. What do you think about the new feature on Twitter? Are you outraged or intrigued? Maybe neither?

(Image: Twitter dictionary via Shutterstock)



#muckedup recap: stuff journalists like

At this Tuesday’s #muckedup chat we got an inside look at ‘what journalists like.’ 

The chat covered the upsides of the profession, from favorite and most used apps and tools, to the upsides and downsides of their jobs. We found out what journalists can’t live without, what they think of pitching, and more. Here’s a look at some of the twitter highlights from the chat:

#Muckedup Q1: What tech tools do you use everyday that you can’t live without? Share your faves

#Muckedup Q2: What’s your biggest pet peeve when it comes to pitching or being pitched? Either by PR or to editors. 

And that led to this little tangent about wine koozies:

#Muckedup Q3: What does the public not know about you and your job that you love? That you hate? Is perception reality?

#Muckedup Q4: Are journos public personas; how does the public perception compare to the real? Is this outlook fair for journos?

Thanks again to all of those who joined. We hope to see you next Tuesday, August 6th at 8pm for our next #muckedup chat.


PBS NewsHour: Going social without foregoing news standards


Colleen Shalby

PBS NewsHour has gone through several transformations since it began in October 1975. It started as The Robert MacNeil Report and by December of that year it had become The MacNeil/Lehrer Report. In September 1983 it changed to The MacNeil/Lehrer Newshour, becoming the first and only hour-long nightly broadcast of national news. Over the next 2 ½ decades the program continued to evolve, until in December 2009 it became, simply, PBS NewsHour.

As with all of the nightly news programs, NewsHour needed to respond to the digital realities facing journalism.  According to CEO Bo Jones, NewsHour has “embraced the digital world in a vigorous fashion. We have a team of smart, serious journalists who understand and work well in today’s interactive world…Our social media presence has grown to become one of the largest of any nightly television news program, allowing us to reach and engage with new audiences throughout the country on important public issues.”

Colleen Shalby, Social Media Editor for PBS NewsHour, is part of that team and is involved with a variety of social media efforts. For the NewsHour online blog, “The Rundown,” Colleen has written about how Facebook groups helped identify photos in the aftermath of the Oklahoma tornado, and the confusion that arose on social media regarding suspects in the Boston Marathon attacks. 

On the lighter side, Colleen wore NewsHour's “HatCam” as she ran in the annual ACLI Capitol Challenge this past May. Viewers could follow the PBS team, “No Commercials, No Mercy,” as they placed 4th out of seventeen.

Muck Rack spoke with Colleen about her role at NewsHour.

MR: What does it mean to be the “Social Media Editor?”

CS: I run our social media platforms in an effort to connect with new audiences; engage with those already invested in our coverage; and broaden awareness of our content and brand. I’ve also reported on social media reaction to news events. I have created call-outs on our various platforms, based around a broadcast or online report, and rounded up those responses into accompanying stories. I also work with reporters and producers to organize live chats and Google hangouts, giving our audience a chance to ask the questions.

MR: Do you have a specific beat for “The Rundown?”

CS:  “The Rundown” includes a wide variety of topics. We have beat heads for science, world, art, politics, business, education and health, but anyone at the NewsHour can pitch a story and write for a beat if that story gets approved. I’ve written social media stories and I’ve rounded up user-generated content for various beats. But, I’ve also written my own stories separate from a social media focus.

MR:  Does PBS/NewsHour have guidelines about what you can and cannot tweet as @cshalby?

CS: I cannot show political bias in my tweets. I also can’t break news by myself (i.e. wait until I’m absolutely sure about the facts before I’m tweeting).

MR: What’s been the impact of Twitter on how NewsHour gathers/covers the news? Has it been positive or negative?

CS: Twitter has definitely become a factor for covering the news. The biggest example I can think of is when news spread that the Boston bomber was believed to be on a boat in a Watertown backyard. The NewsHour had just finished broadcasting when tweets started trickling in about the boat, before it hit the wires. It was those first tweets that stopped people from going home. Ultimately, when the news was confirmed, the broadcast did a turnaround show. Twitter was the red flag.

MR: What would veteran NewsHour journalists say about the impact of Twitter?

CS: I think our veteran journalists would say that the most important thing to do when reporting the news is to report the facts. And that holds true for Twitter. It’s better to wait and be right, then to report something that might be false.


Interview with Josh Friedland aka @ruthbourdain aka @thefoodsection


Josh Friedland

“In a major blow, butter has just canceled its relationship with Paula Deen.” (@ruthbourdain, June 28) 

“The birds are louder than fuck this morning. Breakfast of black beans, tortillas, and salsa causing fragrant, ozone-destroying flatulence.” (@ruthbourdain , July 9)

Since March 2010, @ruthbourdain has been firing off satirical tweets, like the ones above, making fun of the culinary intelligentsia and their devotees. @ruthbourdain, a name based on former Gourmet Editor Ruth Reichl, and Chef, author, and TV personality, Anthony Bourdain, reached 66,000 followers in the past three years. But it remained a mystery who actually was the avatar. That is, until July 12, when the New York Times “outed” the man behind the persona.  It turned out that @ruthbourdain was really Joshua Friedland, a writer, editor, and blogger. Before it was revealed that he was @ruthbourdain, Josh was best known as the editor/writer of The Food Section, an award-winning website and blog about the world of food, drink, and travel. Muck Rack spoke with Josh about his recent experiences and thoughts about social media.

Muck Rack: Has social media contributed to making the culinary world so ripe for parody?

Josh Friedland: The Ruth Bourdain account started specifically as a satire of Ruth Reichl’s very flowery, poetic haiku-like tweets, so in that sense, it was directly about social media. But, the character also satirized some of the discourse you find only on social media, from commenting in real time on events and news (as other real live twitterers do) to spoofing formats like Twitter chats on service journalism themes like Thanksgiving and holiday cooking tips.


Ruth Bourdain avatar (created by Friedland)

MR: When you began, three years ago, Twitter wasn’t nearly as ubiquitous as it is today. Why not a Facebook page or a blog?

JF: It originated with a specifically Twitter-focused satire, so it wouldn’t have made any sense elsewhere. It was all about the context of quickly (as fast as I could) writing Tweets that parodied Ruth Reichl’s. Twitter is also more of a broadcast medium, so it would have been very difficult to build on FaceBook in the same way. I eventually created a tumblr blog for the occasional longer piece that couldn’t be constrained to 140 characters. Also, there’s something about Twitter that gives a parody an equal footing with living, breathing people. I think that was a big part of the success.

MR: Who, in the culinary world, is doing a good job of using social media to communicate? What food tweeters do you follow that provide information/news you value?

JF: Obviously, I need to pay my respect to Ruth Reichl (@ruthreichl) and Anthony Bourdain (@bourdain). Bourdain wasn’t even tweeting when I started the parody, but now he tweets photos from all of his shoots, which is fantastic. You can always rely on Regina Schrambling (@gastropoda) for her incisive, biting tweets about the food media (she also has the best-fed cat on Twitter). As for chefs, I think Mario Batali (@mariobatali) does an amazing job at responding to reader’s questions. He is so responsive that I wonder if it is really him. Rick Bayless (@rick_bayless) is also very active.

MR: You have an eclectic communications career from social services to healthcare and most recently food. Has your success as “Ruth Bourdain” fueled a desire to pursue more satirical writing?

JF: This was the first humor writing I ever did. I would love to try doing more.



How to pitch over Twitter without looking like a twit

There’s a fine line between being bothersome and being effective on social media. PR professionals walk this line every day when they try to pitch stories and reach out to journalists. Muck Rack spoke with PR professionals about their best practices on Twitter and social media, here’s what they had to say.


"Connecting on social media is just like sending out a release. You want to be specific and targeted. Make sure you’ve done your research and you know who you’re pitching, and that what you’re sending is relevant with an interesting spin. A lot of celebrities and reporters manage their own Twitter, so it’s one of the best ways to communicate with hard-to-reach people today. Look for someone who’s an active Tweeter.”

Dana Humphrey, owner and lead marketing/PR consultant of Whitegate PR


“The most important thing about social media is to get engaged and remain engaged even before you have a need. Establishing a relationship with targeted media sources and journalists is easier than ever. Showing sincere interest in what they cover on a daily basis will help you become familiar with their style and it will help them become familiar with you in general.”

-Monica G. Wood, lead strategist/owner of MWPR, Inc.


“In a niche PR Agency, social media has become one of my most sacred tools. I would estimate about 50% of my business is a direct result of social media and being active on it…We pitch stories to trade press, but because of our social media presence they are mostly already following our news or blog. By narrowing down our focus on social media to only jewelry-industry related topics, we have been able to build a referral-based business.”

-Olga Gonzalez, CEO/Founder Pietra PR


“With social media, when you are an organization trying to provide value, understanding that reporters use Twitter as a medium in which to connect with each other and their friends, and using that with the people that support them is primary. I find Twitter is the most open forum, it offers you a limited way to contact journalists that’s not overbearing. I think unless they’ve invited it, Facebook is a bubble that shouldn’t be popped.”

- Sam Moore, Head of PR at Bloomreach 


“Social media, and specifically Twitter, is a great way to connect and build relationships with reporters. By following individual reporters, you can learn about what they are interested in and see the kinds of stories that they are already covering. Since Twitter is limited to 140 characters, I find that I use Twitter more to follow-up with reporters rather than pitching them directly on Twitter. I’ve also had success responding to queries posted by reporters on Twitter.”

-Cheryl Knauer, Director of Media Relations, McDaniel College


"Even if you’re pitching on a social media platform other than Twitter, it’s still important to keep your pitch brief. Journalists, business owners, and other media types are busy people, so you need to get to your point quickly. Make sure your pitch is grammatically correct, or you’ll instantly lose credibility. Boost your activity on your social media accounts before pitching so the recipient can view your profiles and know that you’re a credible professional.”

- Andrew Schrage, co-owner and PR head at Money Crashers


What’s the deal with @Seinfeld2000? An exclusive interview with its creator.


Last December, @SeinfeldToday started tweeting out addictingly relatable mini-“Seinfeld” plots revolving around modern day annoyances. Co-run by BuzzFeed’s Jack Moore, the account picked up more than 75,000 followers its first day, and after about a week it was in the hundreds of thousands. Stories about it popped up everywhere; it was the parody account of the moment.

An army of imitators followed, and among them was a clunky, typo-ridden faux-clone that had the same gimmick but was deeply dissonant: @Seinfeld2000.

Profane, nonsensical and often dark, the account viciously and hilariously lampooned @SeinfeldToday, attempting to poke holes in its formula while sending up the idea of parody accounts in general. It has an almost insurmountable barrier of entry, and it is often associated with that sect of Twitter users who must not be named. (In a fawning tribute, The Daily Dot called it “Weird Twitter’s parody about nothing.”) But whether the humor is your brand or not, its dedicated fans find it among the funniest parody accounts on Twitter.

The account has amassed more than 7,000 followers, done a Reddit AMA, made believers of Lena Dunham and Rob Delaney, written a few BuzzFeed posts, launched a YouTube channel, and just released a 17,000-word eBook called “The Apple Store.” I caught up @Seinfeld2000 and asked: What’s the deal with S2K?

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