In this social-media-saturated day and age, traditional media figures often have trouble adapting to the way our generation approaches news and politics. (See: Lemon, Don.) Fortunately, there are a few high-profile journalists and pundits who have learned to navigate Twitter without inspiring parody hashtags about themselves — so with any luck, they can teach the rest of them how it’s done.
— Anderson Cooper (@andersoncooper) January 1, 2015
The world of social media can be a treacherous one for TV journalists not used to navigating the wilds of Twitter. That’s what CNN’s Jim Acosta learned yesterday when he took a pot shot at Hank Green and the other YouTubers picked to interview President Obama. Acosta looked down his nose at the world of new media and he’ll pay the price with Nerdfighers in his mentions for days to come. The smartest journalists in traditional media realize that social media isn’t just a distraction, or a marketing tool — it’s a way to discover new stories, reach new audiences, and give even more context to good reporting.
One person who clearly understands that is CNN’s resident superstar, Anderson Cooper. Cooper’s Twitter is well worth a follow since he uses it to provide background on the pieces he’s developing for CNN and 60 Minutes, and to spark conversation with other journalists and intellectuals. (At least that’s what you can tell your friends if you want to sound sophisticated.) Cooper is also a bona fide celebrity, which means his Twitter account is also full of behind the scenes photos of glamorous events and witty exchanges of banter with BFFs like comedian Kathy Griffin and ancient trickster god/media personality Andy Cohen. He’s educated (Yale!), rich (a Vanderbilt!) and famous (TV star). Anderson Cooper is everything America loves and values…and also smart.
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) January 15, 2015
Journalists who get social media are the ones who know their audience. It seems like an obvious thing to say, but so often you’ll see slip ups by supposedly well-educated and experienced media personnel that you wonder what the hell they were thinking.
The one journalist whose social media game is on point is easily Nate Silver. With great infographics, just the right amount of deadpan wit and a good nose for the sort of random statistical analysis subjects that pique our interest (see: the ever-changing nature of beer and hard cider sales), Silver’s entertaining and informative, putting more research into his articles than, well, just about any other. It’s no wonder he’s batting higher than most in the Electoral College pick ’em game.
As someone who is 99% unmoved by all the hinting & fake drama around who’s running in 2016, I’m astounded Romney’s going to run again.
— Rachel Maddow MSNBC (@maddow) January 13, 2015
The Heady Topper of New Zealand is apparently chocolate milk: http://t.co/Z1SnFHvAZt
— Rachel Maddow MSNBC (@maddow) October 25, 2014
Liberal pundit and unabashed political wonk Rachel Maddow has been at this Twitter game for a long time. She’s had a strong online presence ever since her days as a snarky talk radio host for Air America, and now that she’s become one of the talking heads at MSNBC, her follower count has shot up to over three million. The thing I like about her is that while her Twitter account is now part of MSNBC’s corporate PR and likely has a team of staffers supporting it, Maddow maintains her cheerfully sarcastic voice and deftly uses her popularity to promote online resources, quirky local stories and underappreciated reporters doing excellent work. The result is a funny and useful news feed that keeps political discussions circulating long after her television show is done for the day. And despite the staggering amounts of hate she receives as an openly gay woman on the internet, she never feeds the trolls or clutters her timeline with petty bickering — something her colleagues have had trouble with in the past. (Keith Olbermann, I’m looking at you.)
2 Tuskegee Airmen died on the same day. Clarence E. Huntley Jr. and Joseph Shambrey, both 91, died Monday in their Los Angeles homes
— Al Roker (@alroker) January 12, 2015
Without question, in choosing hip social media savvy newspeople, I have to tip my hat to my homey, Al Roker. Al was cool enough to give me a call one day and talk social media for as long as I wanted. Turns out, America’s Weatherman is pretty hip to new media. Running not just an active Twitter feed, he’s also a Vine star and helms a production company that produces web television. In fact, I dare say he’s one of the MOST hip of the so-called legacy media crew. And he’s funny as hell too. You can’t ask for much more than that in a Follow Friday choice.
Give these Twitter-savvy media types a follow, and don’t forget to follow us at @newrockstars!