One of the things I enjoy the most on Twitter is interacting with reporters. Believe it or not, there are many similarities between electeds and reporters: we both care deeply about democratic institutions and seek to protect and enhance them. A good elected official also recognizes that reporters serve a valuable role in our democracy: they help keep us in line.
I’ve known John Micek for years, starting with his time at the Morning Call. He was one of the first Pennsylvania reporters to really incorporate Social Media into his regular routine. John is currently the Editorial and Opinions editor with the PennLive out of Central Pennsylvania. He is a very active Twitter user who regularly tweets political happenings and his own eclectic taste in music. John also makes a daily morning story, the Morning Coffee. I asked John a few questions about his job and Social Media, and he was kind enough to answer them. See below for more!
1) As a reporter, what are your expectations when it comes to politicians using Social Media?
I expect them to use it. There’s no way to be an elected official these days and not use social media. Constituents expect it. Reporters expect it. It’s an efficient way of transmitting information. If you want to survive, you have to use social media.
2) What is the stupidest thing you have ever seen when it comes to Social Media use?
Those examples are as limitless as the stars. But my personal favorites are the pols and staffers who try to pick fights with political reporters on Twitter. Have an issue with coverage? That’s fine. Call me or shoot me an e-mail. But a Twitter feud? You don’t win that one because you just end up looking petty and small. And I can’t speak for my colleagues, but if you want to pick a Twitter fight, fine. I can do that all day.
3) From a purely monetary perspective, do you think that Social Media has netted you and your paper more or less sales?
I have no idea if it’s made my news organization any money. I do know it’s extended my brand, however. People know who I am as a result of my Twitter feed and that’s paid dividends in stories, tips and ongoing professional relationships. But can I retire tomorrow because of Twitter? Nope.
4) At this point, how many political reporters DON’T use Twitter?
None who are currently working. For us, social media is an indispensable tool. It’s a way of breaking news. If you’re 15 seconds ahead of the other guy, you’ve scored a scoop. It’s a way of keeping in contact with sources. And it’s a way to promote your work to as broad (if slightly self-selected) audience as possible. By carefully curating who you follow and who follows you, you’re reaching the right sets of eyes and ears.
5) Do you use what other electeds say on Twitter or FB for your stories, or for leads?
I’ve dropped Tweets into stories when I can’t reach a politician for live quotes. And I have used Tweets as the basis for chasing down future stories. And statements pasted to Facebook pages — particularly … ahhh … the really colorful ones … can be gold.
6) How much a handicap do you think an elected official faces if they AREN’T on Social Media – if any?
See my answer above. If you’re running for office, or you’re in office, and you’re not on Social Media, I don’t know how you expect to effectively serve your constituents.