One of those efforts took place today as BusinessWeekâs Washington bureau chief, Jane Sasseen, covered the inauguration of President Barak Obama on Twitter. A live feed on the BusinessWeek.com home page allowed viewers, whether or not they subscribed to Twitter, to view Sasseenâs posts, known as tweets.
Twitter is a free social networking application that allows users to send short text messages virtually instantaneously to selected followers or anyone who has subscribed to the service. With permission, Twitter members can follow the posts of others, including more than 30 BusinessWeek journalists. Privately held Twitter doesnât disclose how many users it has, but published estimates cluster around 5 million.
âJane will cover the entire dayâs events by Twitter,â John Byrne, editor in chief of BusinessWeek.com, executive editor of BusinessWeek and âan incredible Twitter fan,â said in advance of the inauguration.
Sasseen, who had not used Twitter âuntil we trained her last week,â used her PDA to write the messages, Byrne said. âBeing able to do this directly from a mobile device is part of the power of Twitter,â he added.
In an attempt to distinguish BusinessWeek within the ocean of media coverage pouring from Washington to the Web, Byrne gave Sasseen specific instructions: âDonât write only about what you see because everyone else will largely be seeing what you are seeing,â he said. âI want you to Twitter about what you feel, what you hear, the emotions around you.â
Byrne said BusinessWeek.com planned âto take the Twitter stream and publish it in story form at midday or the end of the day. After all, Twitter is a technology and a social media tool that not everyone has access to, so weâre going publish it to make it accessible to a greater number of people.â
BusinessWeek also used social media for a crowd-sourced article that appeared in this weekâs print edition (dated Jan. 26) commemorating the Obama inauguration. One of the articles in the cover-story package, labeled Vox Stimuli is the result of a seven-week project that elicited audience participation through blogs and Facebook, as well as Twitter. Vox Stimuli, a name suggested by an audience member, also has a special blog on BusinessWeek.com.
âThe idea for Vox Stimuli was pretty simple,â Byrne said. âAs Obama considers the largest stimulus package ever in U. S. history, how do you make sure that the people paying the $800 billion get a voice? We wanted to open up the economic effort to everyone, especially to let our smart, engaged readers weigh in with bright ideas.â