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Today’s Twitter Headline: How Local News Organizations Use Twitter

In the ten years since I’ve moved to Wichita, I’ve always been impressed with the local media. Most local television stations have a clear idea of their audience, what interests them, and what’s most relevant to them. As a result, every night we get a variety of local news that mixes events, crimes, politics, and soft news.

There are a handful of news organizations in Wichita, including television and radio outlets. Admittedly, I don’t listen or watch most of them. To be honest, I get most of my local news through Twitter. I know, I feel like such a millennial writing that, but it’s the truth. I hardly have time to actually sit down and read the news, especially local news, so I look to Twitter for breaking news. And between the traffic reports and latest events, I think most of the organizations are doing a great job.

I began following many local news organizations on Twitter. Like many, I turn to Wichita news organizations for local news coverage, not national or international news. Most seemed to update regularly, and there are definite differences between each social media strategy.

First, I think it’s important to know what makes a news organization successful on social media. Do we expect these organizations to interact with its readers online? Are social networks an addition to on-air news reports? Or should organizations just report the headlines?

From what I see on Twitter, Wichita news organizations are taking all of these approaches. For example, KNSS (@knssradio) solely tweets headlines. This is great for their followers, who tend to listen to their station for news headlines. KNSS concentrates more on news in Kansas and surrounding areas such as Kansas City. They tweet regularly about every couple of hours, so it’s consistent with how people check the news, which is every once in a while. KNSS doesn’t seem to interact with its followers or anyone else.

Kake News (@kakenews) seems to use Twitter more as an addition to their on-air reports. While Kake does tweet the day’s headlines, they also refer to their newscast or website for more information about a story. Kake also retweets the messages or reports from their reporters, as well as responds to questions from followers. What Kake doesn’t do however, is start interaction or conversations. It might benefit them, since their audience is generally loyal to their channel, to interact and field questions on Twitter to gauge what the audience wants to see, or their opinions and thoughts about certain segments.

The Wichita Eagle (@kansasdotcom) also tweets headlines, and retweets their reporters just like Kake does. The Eagle, however provides a much more interactive communication between them and their followers. Just reading the timeline for the Eagle, one can see how the interaction is much deeper because their followers talk conversationally with the account. It seems more like a community that provides two-way conversations, as opposed to just pushing headlines. They also add plenty of photos and cover all sorts of news from breaking  to weather. The eagle also does an interesting thing by letting reporters cover special court cases for minute-to-minute coverage. For example, @StanFinger covers crimes so he is often the one live tweeting from court cases that are interesting and important to readers.

From what I’ve studied this semester, I think the core of social media is interaction. Interaction with audience members, and followers, can truly cultivate a community. And this is especially important for local news organizations that are competing with national and international news organizations. People turn to local news organizations for just that, local news. So these organizations should focus on that, and cater to what their audience is interested in.

Like I stated earlier, most of the organizations on Twitter are great at reporting the local news, but they’re different from each other based on the interaction. For example, KNSS listeners are not like Wichita Eagle readers. They would rather prefer to just get the headlines without opinion, so the KNSS Twitter stream works great for them. Wichita Eagle readers like to interact more, so they prefer to talk and add to the Wichita Eagle Twitter stream.

I would say that the Wichita Eagle is doing the best job on Twitter because I prefer their community interaction. I think social media networks, especially Twitter, are built for community interaction so it’s a great place for news organizations to get readers’ opinions and ideas about their local news report. Overall though, the local news organizations that are on Twitter are probably aware of what their audience is looking for by now, so catering to your audience, no matter how different, is the key to a successful social media account.

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Posted by Katie Le on October 30, 2011
2 Comments
  1. 11/2/2011
    kathleenemcconnell

    Katie, I thought this was an interesting perspective. I’m curious if KNSSradio purposefully only tweets headlines. Is it their strategy? They only have 674 followers so it seems like Kansasdotcom is a more popular choice with viewers, but maybe KNSSradio is targeting a niche audience.
    Again, interesting point of view. Well done!

  2. 11/2/2011

    I had pretty much the same argument for why the Eagle’s Twitter was more effective than the other local news’. I’m not sure if KNSS or KSN attempt to drive viewers because of headlines only or what. They did not offer much interaction at all. If you’re a news organization, you can have fun with this and invoke more interaction and views.

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