Thursday, December 2, 2010

The New York Times Twitter Beast

By Eric Pickhartz

The New York Times claims itself as the largest seven-day newspaper in the United States. It’s Monday through Friday circulation checks in at 1,039,031 readers, and the Sunday edition reaches 1,451,233. However, the Twitter monster has claimed a grand total of 2,753,510 followers for the New York Times account. That’s nearly twice as many readers than those of the hard copy of the newspaper. What exactly does this mean?

From a multimedia journalist perspective, this means the New York Times is achieving the ultimate new-media status. If the average American wants to follow a news-centered Twitter account with the most information from a trusted source, the fail-safe answer is to follow the Times. The Times’ slogan “Where the conversation begins” takes on a whole new meaning. It has become so simple to find stories through Twitter that there is little reason to go out and buy a copy or subscribe to the paper. It costs nothing more than the Internet access charges that consumers pay for anyway. Plus, the speed of Twitter places a story before your eyes in an immediate manner. That beats waiting around for the delivery or walking to a bookstore to buy a paper.

As a comparison, the number two and three national newspapers’ Twitter followers are dwarfed by the Times. The Wall Street Journal has 531,332 followers, and the Los Angeles Times has 92,965 followers.

As a new way to reach customers, Twitter has become a force to be reckoned with. It would be interesting to find out the level of convergence of those who subscribe to the paper and also follow it on Twitter. Is the combination of the two an act of overkill? Or do they complement each other?

The Times can claim itself as the most-read newspaper in the entire country, and it will do so until hell freezes over. Is it because they truly have the best content? Or are they merely the go-to failsafe publication that Americans resort to when they can’t think of anything else to read? The odds are in favor of the latter, but the Times wouldn’t admit it. So who do you follow on Twitter? And is it worth it? It should be, for your own informed good.

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