What should journalists know about Twitter Moments?

“Get insights and perspectives you won’t find anywhere else,” boasts Twitter about its new “Moments” feature, which debuted today. Moments is a collection of around ten curated tweets and multimedia items organized around a theme, a trend, or news. Think a big football game or a presidential debate. Unlike Snapchat’s Discover feature, where users can follow brands and news outlets, Moments collects stories and content from various sources.

Getting your content on Moments

How can news outlets insert themselves in Moments? We tweeted that question at Andrew Fitzgerald, director of curation at Twitter. 

Fitzgerald, a former journalist with Al Jazeera and Current TV, runs a team in charge of sourcing, verifying and publishing tweets to Moments. They’ll be responsible for finding your content, so the standard best practices are in effect: hashtags, multimedia, mentioning twitter handles, probably using an emoji or two. Fitzgerald suggested sharing great photos and videos. “Moments is a very visual experience!” he tweeted. A longer list of what they curate is available here.

In an interview with Nieman Lab, Fitzgerald acknowledged that Twitter wasn’t exactly producing a “news product” but rather using “an expertise in finding the best content on Twitter” to “highlight the best tweets that are representative of a conversation.”

Twitter has been careful to state that Moments will “not take a view on a controversial subject.” It noted its editors should “not duplicate curated collections or sets of Tweets embedded on a single third-party website,” and that it “will use data-driven decision making when choosing Tweets around controversial topics.” By data-driven decision making, Twitter likely means employing the strategy and techniques used by social media verification companies like Storyful to scour the web and verify accounts by triangulating video footage, contacting users and uploaders, and determining the reliability of the content. More on Storyful’s process here or watch a panel from the 2014 International Journalism Festival here.  

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Media partners

Twitter will be sharing these Moments curation tools with media partners like The New York Times, The Washington Post, BuzzFeed, Bleacher Report, and Fox News, according to Nieman Lab. Why? Using Moments, news organizations may be able to increase their exposure. As Wired argued, Moments “gives stories and tweets a longer, more coherent life.” They will also be packaging their news content in a way that Twitter can easily publish, should they decide to.

Which is precisely the issue. Are media partners guaranteed Twitter airtime? If so, how much? What will Twitter accept and what won’t it? And should journalists be focusing on getting the story right rather than trying to insure it is noticed by the gods of Twitter?

Aleszu Bajak
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