Giving - and getting - facts through Twitter

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The so-called social media sites on the internet are increasingly being used by journalists as another valuable means of proving information– and of finding it.

Twitter in particular is being used to considerable effect by editorial staff at The News.

And I have to say it’s a great daily refresher of the skills needed to ‘write tight’ given that users are restricted to messages no longer than 140 characters.

Thousands of people follow The News Twitter account @portsmouthnews through which we post each day links to major stories on our website, notifications of breaking stories and images of our front and back pages.

Most editorial staff have their own accounts in their own name – mine for instance is @markacheson – and if you’re a Twitter user, you might want to follow those who cover subjects of particular interest to you.

For instance, crime updates and snaps are posted by @pn_clare_semke while stage tweets come from @pn_mischa_allen. Our business reporter is a frequent contributor and can be followed @pn_Emma_Judd and if you’re looking for the latest tweets concerning news from the Gosport area @pn_sambannister is your man.

Twitter gives us a good means of pushing out basic facts very quickly as we develop stories in far more detail on our website at

It’s also becoming more and more valuable to us as a source of information and a means of gathering it.

Two recent instances are among many examples of this.

In the first, news editor @pn_graeme_patfield spotted a tweet concerning Pompey posted by young fan Jack Knight who commiserated with his mum Sharon after her arm was broken as she reached to protect him from a home striker’s wayward shot during Pompey’s 3-0 win at Peterborough.

Graeme tweeted back to make contact and we were soon on our way to chat to mum and son. Result, a page 3 lead for Monday!

And recently when reporter @priya_mistry wrote a story about a horse that escaped death in a motorway crash, she tweeted to ask if anyone knew the owner.

They did, and so we were able to tell how black beauty Harvey was recovering well.

Twitter is also used extensively by reporters – and outside organisations we invite in – to feed information to our live coverage at of big events, such as the Harry Redknapp/Milan Mandaric tax evasion trial.

So if you’re on Twitter, we hope you follow us!