Luckily for lazy journalists, there is a permissible way to "crowdsource" the hard work of reporting to the Twitter masses. But there are many more wrong ways to slack. After the jump, a collection of microblogging "don't"s.
These examples were, naturally, emailed to our indolent selves by you, our gracious readers. We shamelessly begged for them in a prior post, The Laziest Journalists on Twitter, which highlighted Twitter queries from BusinessWeek, Wired and AP, while noting that we at Gawker have basically no ground to stand on.
So, with an eye toward humility and reader service, we've tried to distill what makes certain crowdsourcing queries annoying, rather than just pointing fingers at lazy journos. Avoid these mistakes:
A barrage of rushed, repetitive questions: Your Twitter readers shouldn't be able to set their watches to your daily deadline. As with, perhaps, USA Today travel writer Barbara De Lollis, whose questions have become so predictable that one aggrieved tipster finds them thoroughly "annoying.. Of her last 6 tweets, 5 are open questions to help her research."
It would appear she's totally on deadline for a piece on unwelcome sexual advances in hotels...
...except that she's actually writing about bottled water in hotels at the same time....
...no, wait — her story is totally about dogs. Send in your dog sightings!
Just reading these questions is tiring. Do any of DeLollis' followers actually answer them all? Wait, nevermind, forget we asked. Lesson: Keep your Twitter questions occasional; followers shouldn't feel interrogated every morning.
Making your heartless pursuit of the story totally obvious: The process of getting a good story can be ugly. A tabloid crime reporter, for example, sometimes has to ask a grieving mom how she feels about seeing her son gunned down, while discreetly slipping her best picture of him out of the frame.
But this sort of bald aggression looks less than flattering in the harsh light of 140 characters. See the questions below from the UK's Channel 4 news, which a tipster tells us is "probably the best news on TV here" but "is forever trying source interviewees, or even just plain asking for questions for them to ask" on Twitter — evidence, to our viewer at least, of desperate budget reductions.
Here's the station asking for some easy misery:
Lesson: For every few sympathetic tweets, you can work in one opportunistic one. But trying to cram both empathy and aggression into one just makes you look two faced.
Gratuitous rhyming: USA Today (UPDATE: and MSNBC) contributor < Eve Tahmincioglu likes to issue her crowdsourcing requests as rhyming couplets, e.g., "I'm looking for workers, not students, who are interning for free/I'd love you to contact me." Her readers are not entirely impressed; writes one: "Isn't she clever???? Gag me with a spoon."
Lesson: Sources will more happily give their time/If you don't try and bribe them with an easy rhyme.