About Me

  • I've spent more than 25 years at the intersection of traditional and digital journalism. I've helped to invent ways to read and interact with the news and advertising on computer screens and iPads, and before that, I wrote news stories on typewriters and six-ply paper. I co-founded WashingtonPost.com and hyperlocal pioneers Backfence.com and GrowthSpur; served as editor of Philly.com; taught media entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland; and have done product-development and strategy consulting for all sorts of media and Internet companies and startups. You can read more about me here.

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October 18, 2009



Exactly Mark. As a correspondent, I used to rely heavily on very expensive news aggregators to find out what was happening on my patch. Twitter has replaced that and I think I'm even more on top of things (read: I'd be happy to pay for some of the feeds or the service in general).

Every time my friends bag on Twitter I point out how it's revolutionized my job. The papers that don't Twitter? I don't quote their scoops because their competition copies them -- and twitters them -- before I ever get around to checking non-twittering papers as secondary slow-day sources.

Adrian DeVore

This is the future of Journalism. Time to adjust as new social media entries are evolving into alternative journalism resources.


The suggested user list seriously does skew your chart (which is oddly missing the Chicago Tribune's @ColonelTribune with 680,000+ followers) -- However, your point about news organizations at the bottom of this list is right on. They should be doing more to actively promote their feed and gaining followers.

My Web site www.breakingtweets.com has grown specifically because of Twitter & breaking news so I felt the need to chime in here. If I can gain 12,400+ followers in eight months, merely from posting quality content and breaking news, why can't traditional news organizations?

Mark Potts

Thanks, Craig. Good catch on @ColonelTribune, which I've written about before, though it's not strictly a breaking news feed. As I said, it wasn't meant to be a comprehensive list, just a snapshot. But your point is correct—there's really no excuse for a major news organization to be at the bottom of this list with a small number of followers.


Hi Mark. My name is Steve Abbott and I work at guardian.co.uk. We realised a while back that we were not signposting our Twitter accounts very well on our site so we launched a page in our Community section called 'Find us on Twitter'. Here is the URL:


I also believe that your figure of 2,729 followers for the Guardian might be taken from the following account:


Unfortunately this is not us. We are in conversation with Twitter about getting this account suspended and we are also looking to verify our other main accounts so that people can be sure that it is really us.

A quick way to spot the official Guardian accounts is that all of them have colour variations on our Guardian favicon. For example, check out http://twitter.com/guardiantech - our most popular account - which has one of our favicons and, at the time of writing, 1,352,398 followers.

Mark Potts

Thanks, Steve. I've taken the faux Guardian off the list.

Robert Quigley, social media editor, Austin American-Statesman

Interesting post, but you're underestimating the power of Twitter's Suggested User List.

The Austin American-Statesman's main account was tracking along almost exactly in follower numbers with @ColonelTribune until the Colonel was put on the list. @BreakingNews had about 25,000 followers (still impressive) before it was put on the list. It vaulted through the roof in a matter of weeks once listed. When a new user signs up for Twitter, the default is to follow the accounts on Twitter's list. There's just no way to build the types of numbers that are on this list without Twitter giving organizations that lift.

That being said, I think your point about properly caring for a Twitter account is spot-on. At the Austin American-Statesman, we have been using Twitter to interact and collaborate with our community for more than a year. Without the benefit of Twitter's list, we have 60+ newsroom accounts, with a total of more than 80,000 combined followers. If anything, I think some of those accounts at the top of your list aren't doing things the right way. There's little-to-no interaction with readers. No "social" use of social media. Twitter shouldn't be a one-way street, in my opinion.

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