Spencer Howson: Twitter is a Necessity

Everyone needs to be on Twitter if you’re going to work in the media. You just have to be.

Spencer Howson




Spencer Howson of 612 ABC Brisbane’s breakfast show today spoke to QUT students about the strong link between radio journalism and online journalism, saying that Twitter closely matches the radio experience.

Twitter is a glorious thing. You can see what’s happening around the globe within seconds. And in bite-sized pieces of 140 characters. Maybe coupled with some photos or a bit of video.

The brevity we must employ when using Twitter is probably why the micro blogging site took off as a journalistic tool more than Facebook did. With tweets being about as long as a headline, what better way to sift quickly through the news of the day than on Twitter?

twitter news

The ABC News 24 Twitter page at Friday August 21 5:12pm AEST.

Cyberbuzz last October posted an article about why Facebook fails as a platform for breaking news, arguing that Twitter and Facebook have divided themselves along the cultural lines of radio and newspapers.

Twitter is to radio as Facebook is to newspapers. One breaks news, the other digests it and adds context.


This is 100% accurate. Even in the online news world, there are different ways of publishing news and different social media platforms will obviously facilitate these differences. If you like analogies, then think of Twitter as the hare, and Facebook as the turtle.

Considering Cyberbuzz’s likening Twitter to radio, it’s no wonder that a radio presenter prefers using Twitter to Facebook.

Personally I’m team Twitter. It’s live and you’re always getting the latest.

Spencer Howson

Twitter trumps Facebook for news delivery. Photo source.

Twitter trumps Facebook for breaking news. Photo source.

Unlike radio, however, you can post images and videos on Twitter, which improves the user experience. Including photos always increases engagement, which is why using multimedia is a must in online journalism.

Including the user is also key to increasing the likelihood of people interacting with you. And interaction improves the user’s experience.

Re-tweeting useful information is cool. It makes listeners feel valued or people on Twitter feel valued, and that’s a pretty decent gift you can give someone.

Spencer Howson

Apart from engaging the radio listener and Twitter user, Spencer says he and the ABC tweets to be useful to Twitter users. Testifying to the “now” deadline of online journalism, he also says they tweet “anytime”.

The pace at which online journalism moves is indicative of advances in technology and the way people are consuming news. As such, the way technology continues to change will influence changes in the way news is delivered.


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