Chicago Tribune Twitterizes masthead

In an experiment to get reporters and editors using the microblogging service, the Thursday edition's masthead listed top execs' Twitter IDs instead of their full names.

The Chicago Tribune listed its top executives and editors by their Twitter IDs Thursday instead of by their real names. Chicago Tribune

According to the masthead of the Thursday print edition of the Chicago Tribune, the paper's publisher is @twhunter.

No, the publisher's parents weren't playing a funny joke on him. And nor were the parents of the paper's other top executives and editors, all of whom were listed on the Thursday masthead with Twitter IDs instead of their names.

The editor? @GerryKern. The editorial page editor? @BruceDold. The managing editor? @jjhirt. And so on.

So what's going on?

"I've been on Twitter a couple of years, since it first emerged from South by Southwest, and so I've been on it for awhile, as you would hope that the digital editor of the Tribune" would be, said Bill Adee, the paper's digital editor. "And in the last month or so, we've really tried to get our reporters and editors on (Twitter) to show them how it could make them better reporters and editors."

He added that, "If you're a reporter or an editor, Twitter is a great way to get in touch with your audience in real time, and if you do it right, if you follow the right people in your sphere of knowledge, you will get a lot out of it."

And, in an experiment to show the many Twitter users among the paper's audience that the Tribune gets the microblogging service, and to make it easy to get in touch with the top editors and executives, the publication decided to publish, for one day only, the Twitter-friendly masthead.

"We were talking at dinner," Adee said, "and maybe we had too many glasses of wine...but we were just all talking, and we were like, 'Hey, let's do it.' Tomorrow, it's back to normal, but you never know when it will spring up again."

Adee explained that as part of its Twitter initiative, the Tribune gave reporters interested in taking part some education about the microblogging service in hopes of showing them how to sign up and how to get value out of it. But he said he had to make clear to the journalists taking part in the program that they shouldn't look at Twitter as a way of building instant new audiences.

"One thing I always warn people" about Twitter, Adee said, "is that it's not a way to generate page views. It's a way to share knowledge and learn what your audience is really interested in."

 

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