That’s a question I attempt to answer. But I’ll need other people’s help to do a really, really good job.
I’ll throw some names and handles out there. I’m focusing on anglos with national profile. These are in no particular order. Plug in their handles on Twitter to see their current stats.
- Robert Fife (@RobertFife): Ottawa bureau chief for CTV News. Tweeting style is to-the-point breaking news. Not really a chatterbox like Kady O’Malley. Joined Twitter on Oct. 1, 2010. Klout score – 50
- Kady O’Malley (@kady): She tweets for CBC from Parliament Hill. Talks to her followers. Joined Twitter on March 16, 2007, so is an early adopter. Some say she tweets *too* much. :) Klout score – 64
- Evan Solomon (@evansolomonCBC): Host of CBC NN’s Power and Politics. Mostly insight tweets rather than newsy. Engages with viewers, explains himself. Joined Twitter on Aug. 20, 2010. Klout score – 53
- Steve Paikin (@spaikin): Host of TVO’s The Agenda. Gained profile for live-tweeting during the G20 riots. Joined Twitter on Sept. 16, 2008. Klout score – 59
- Richard Madan (@RichardMadan): Reporter in CTV News’ Ottawa bureau. Check out the nice deets in his Remembrance Day tweets. Joined Twitter on May 27, 2009. Klout score – 49
- Doug Saunders (@dougsaunders): Globe and Mail’s European bureau chief and a columnist. Breaking news, insight, good curator, witty. Engages with followers. Joined Twitter on March 11, 2009. Klout score – 63
- Graeme Smith (@smithjournalist): Covers South Asia and the Middle East for the Globe and Mail. Tweets from the field. Curates. Relatively low-volume, however. Joined Twitter on Feb. 27, 2010. Klout score – 49
- Stephanie Nolen (@snolen): Covers South Asia for the G&M. Mixes in the personal with news tweets. Curates. The most immediate one? “The Dalai Lama has just entered the room.” Tweets like that put you in the story. Joined Twitter on Feb. 25, 2008. Klout score – 46
- Paul Wells (@inklessPW): Sr. columnist with Maclean’s mag. Tweets about national affairs, but also Ottawa, culture and music. Does engage with followers. Joined Twitter on Dec. 31, 2009. Klout score – 58
- Andrew Coyne (@acoyne): Nat’l editor of Maclean’s mag. Was an early high-profile blogger. Engages on Twitter. More into commentary than breaking news. Joined Twitter on Feb. 2, 2008. Klout score – 63
- David Akin (@DavidAkin): National bureau chief, Sun Media and hosts a show on Sun TV. Was an early high-profile blogger. Prolific tweeter. Engages with audience. Does newsy tweets. Curates. Joined Twitter on Jan. 9, 2008. Klout score – 57
- Susan Delacourt (@SusanDelacourt): Senior political writer for the Toronto Star. Prolific, engages, but suffers by not tweeting enough breaking news. Joined Twitter on May 1, 2009. Klout score – 58
- Joanna Smith (@smithjoanna): Political reporter in the Toronto Star’s Ottawa bureau. Did some outstanding tweeting from Haiti and the Russell Williams court hearings. Joined Twitter on June 16, 2009. Klout score – 49
- Bruce Cheadle (@BCheadle): Member of The Canadian Press’s Ottawa bureau. Lower-profile than the others, but has good judgment on selecting interesting background tweets to news of the day. Strong on accountability journalism and has a good memory for what politicians said then compared to what they’re saying now. Joined Twitter on Sept. 27, 2010. Klout score – 40
- Dan Gardner (@dgardner) – Columnist for the Ottawa Citizen. His forte is throwing 140-character hand grenades. Joined Twitter on April 12, 2010. Klout score – 61
That’s a start. I don’t consider this list definitive, and neither should you. If you have thoughts, please leave a comment below. It’s very difficult for one person to know the tweeting work of every Canadian journalist.
Note: If you’re not on this list but think you should be, it doesn’t mean you aren’t a good journalist (assuming I’m familiar with your tweeting). But some journalists I greatly admire could learn to be better tweeters.
Here’s some quick rules based on those I didn’t add to my list:
- Be a regular tweeter.
- Don’t just amplify your existing work or otherwise simply use Twitter as a promotional tool. Use Twitter as a news medium in itself.
- Follow and engage with people other than fellow journalists and other insiders.
- Let me know who you are. Be as authentic as you can be.
Sorry for the omission of people who tweet exclusively in French, but I’m a unilingual anglophone.
It would be useful to attempt this exercise on a province-by-province basis, or for major cities.
If you ever take on a city/province to rank the J-tweeters, let me know. I’d like to see your work.
One thing this exercise did teach me is that following individual journos isn’t as efficient as following a news organization’s main Twitter feed for a broad overview of the news.
I think what an individual journalist brings is either their on-the-spot observations from a news scene, share their insights into their areas of expertise and engage with followers.
Ah well. Early days. Still lots for everyone to learn.
As always, I’m interested in others’ thoughts. If you don’t follow me on Twitter, I’m at @billdinTO.
Afterward – Dan Gardner
Had I put more thought into it, Dan Gardner of the Ottawa Citizen would have been on the first draft of this list.
One of the first comments on this blog posts, from Simon Billings, suggested him. I thought, “Good idea!”
Then someone named Bob said Gardner was throwing a “hissy fit on Twitter.”
Here are Gardner’s tweets, in ascending order:
- Gotta love Toronto. If you’re not there, you don’t exist. Even if you have a higher Klout score than most of the list.
- From @acourtroom to @dgardner Sorry, not getting Toronto connection. Most listed are Ottawa. What’s your issue with Toronto?
- @acourtroom They all work for national outfits and so are seen in Toronto by the Torontonian who put the list together.
- From @acourtroom to @dgardner OK. Not my personal experience. Most I follow- you included- are connected with our nation’s capital.
- @acourtroom It’s well known in media that if you don’t have a Toronto profile, you don’t exist.
- @ReverendBlair to @dgardner Don’t sweat the petty things and don’t pet the sweaty things, Dan. Lists come and go.
- .@ReverendBlair It’s symptomatic. My books were prominently reviewed in Economist, NYT, FT, etc., but not the Globe or the Star. Annoying.
- @erikjdavis to @dgardner Touting a Klout score is the last refuge of the damned.
- @erikjdavis It’s quantification that substantiates my point. I was not, and will not, otherwise touting my Klout score.
- @DougSaunders to @dgardner Yeah, well mine haven’t received a word of mention in the Star or Macleans (except on their bestseller charts).
- @DougSaunders Might be a competitive thing in your case. Or, as you say, “it’s a Canadian writing about global issues so it can’t be good.”
- @DougSaunders to @dgardner Might also be a competitive thing in your case, for same silly reason.
- @DougSaunders Maybe the key is to be a notorious rightwing flake whose book is a superficial polemic. That seemed to work nicely.
- @DougSaunders to @dgardner That is most definitely the winning formula. We should work at it.
- DougSaunders to @dgardner I should note National Post has given my book considerable good print, so absence from Star/Macleans isn’t *purely* competitive.
- @ShawnMicallef to @dgardner one guy and that klout junk represents Toronto? Klout is good for a punch line, that’s it
- @ShawnMicallef It was quantification. And for what I used it for, it works.
- @ShawnMicallef to @dgardner well, one guy. Klout still ridiculous.
- @ShawnMicallef And no, I didn’t say anything about “representing Toronto.” I was commenting on media myopia.
I decided to jump in:
- @billdinTO to @dgardner I guess I am a Torontonian — albiet one who lived the first 41 years of his life in Western Canada.
- @billdinTO to @dgardner Did you see this part: “That’s a start. I don’t consider this list definitive, and neither should you.”
- News flash: I’m about to add @dgardner to this list – http://www.billdoskoch.ca/2011/11/13/canadian-journalists-best-tweeters/. Let the hunger strike end.
- @dgardner to @billdinTO Yes. I wasn’t criticizing you. My tweet was about Toronto-centric nature of Cdn media. Do you disagree?
- @dgardner Not fundamentally. The national media primarily work out of Toronto and Ottawa. Doesn’t mean there aren’t great Js elsewhere.
One last time: I prepared this list for an American social media editor living in New York who asked about tweeting Canadian journalists to follow.
If he’d asked about who’s the best to follow on Saskatchewan politics, I would suggest my former colleague and one-time fishing buddy Murray Mandryk. I would suggest Joan Crockatt as a Calgary J-voice.
If he’d asked about the best tweeter on the trout journalism beat in Kamloops, B.C., I wouldn’t know who’s doing it, but I’d be interested in such a gig. :)
In closing, a list such as this needs to be crowdsourced. I’d love to hear any further suggestions.