Tracking 10 Healthcare Beat Reporters on Twitter

It is not news that social media has fundamentally changed the way we communicate. Today, we share news, we don’t just read it.  A news cycle is every moment of every day. We rely on people to pitch news to their own networks of other people.  You get the picture.  The fact that communications has changed is not really news anymore.

Twitter, more than any other social media platform, is a news platform.  It is a news feed that is constant and on-going.  It is less social than it is media.  It even sometimes provides us with news and pictures from places and events where there is no other way to get news out.

And since the nature of the way we communicate has changed, so has journalism.  Ever since 2009 when news events started generating pictures of breaking events over Twitter every reporter realized “I need to be on Twitter” (and some realized it before that) .  A reporter who used to file maybe one story a day, can now file several mini-stories.  A reporter who used to have to cast a wide net with a story or a report can now report on something very granular.  And a reporter can drive traffic back to his or her story with a link to followers and the follower’s followers.  There used to be only macro-reporting – now there is micro-reporting.

So I wanted to get a feel for the environment around Twitter and healthcare reporters.  I picked 10 reporters who I consider to be those who would regularly report on significant data milestones or on FDA advisory committee outcomes or FDA decisions.  They spanned broadcast, print, wire/news service, magazine and newspaper.  I think what I found was interesting.

Of the ten I examined (no I am not telling you who they were) – they ranged quite a bit in terms of frequency of tweets and number of followers.  Some had a rather anemic output on Twitter – sending out a tweet only every other day or so and rarely re-tweeting.  You could tell that they don’t embrace the medium fully.  Others were prolific, sending out as many as several tweets a day.

Followings ranged quite bit as well, with some having only a few thousand followers while others went into the stratosphere.  Some had relatively low KLOUT scores, while others had very high ones – though not quite in the Lady Gaga realm.

And I was surprised to find that many of them re-tweeted others and in fact, some were prolific re-tweeters.  Moreover, not only were some prolific re-tweeters, but some retweeted others regularly from other outlets, not just their own.  High profile reporters re-tweeted material from other high profile healthcare reporters.

So what, you may ask?  The so-what is this.  While it may be very important to get a print story above the fold in a traditional paper, or even to get a nice mention in an online edition, there is something to be said for knowing your beat reporters and their Twitter profile. I have said before, a media list that has the name, phone number, email and outlet name on it is yesterday’s list.  Just as one might prepare for a news milestone by doing some macro-analysis of the media environment, it is probably important to be doing some micro-analysis as well.

I think it is time that today’s media list includes a Twitter profile that includes following, KLOUT score and that you have an understanding of who they follow and who they retweet.  It is good to be above the fold in print – but it is also good to be in the know on the digital side.  Cover the macro.  Cover the micro.

I have created a Twitter list of some key healthcare reporters and if you like you can follow it here.

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