Off The Press
August 25, 2009
By Warren Kagarise
Maybe the newspaper in front of you arrived at your doorstep, fashioned from ink and paper and delivered in a plastic bag. Perhaps you steered your browser to the Web counterpart, www.issaquahpress.com. Now, another option exists: The Issaquah Press has joined popular microblogging site Twitter. Follow us @issaquahpress.
Wait. What? Microblogging?
Let me explain how it works: Twitter users — tweeters — post updates, known as tweets, capped at 140 characters, or about the length of a text message. Each tweet is a condensed burst of information — a useful device, especially as news breaks and reporters gather information piece by piece.
Users follow other tweeters to build a network. As a user follows others, their tweets appear in his or her timeline. A conversation begins.
Like other news outlets worldwide, we utilize Twitter to speed information to our readers. Unlike other news providers, we strive to deliver hyperlocal content and news about regional issues that affect Issaquah residents. Since we first tweeted July 27, we’ve used the medium to chronicle a record heat wave, City Council decisions, ArtWalk and Concerts on the Green, the arrival of new businesses and the departures of others.If all of the lingo and symbols are tough to comprehend, point your browser toward www.twitter.com/issaquahpress. The clever folks at Twitter, headquartered in San Francisco, have created a slew of how-to guides for the site.
In our newsroom, the Twitter idea germinated as a way to deliver breaking news at a pace even faster than we could with our Web site. The initial proposal evolved from news updates into a way to engage our readers and ask questions about past coverage and future projects.
We use Twitter to keep abreast of news and collect tips from around Issaquah and our coverage area. The boundaries mirror the Issaquah School District, so news from Preston and parts of Renton and Sammamish is welcome, too.
Twitter also affords us another way to converse with our readers. A pair of headline-making events last week provided us with a way to test the new medium. When fire broke out in a Cedar Grove Composting woodpile, our tweets about the blaze were picked up by other users and republished to their accounts — or retweeted, in Twitter parlance. A few days later, when Port Blakely Communities announced the impending construction of a Regal movie theater in the Issaquah Highlands, our tweets were retweeted once more.
The retweets, credited to The Issaquah Press, allowed us to reach even more readers than we could have on our own.
As we delved deeper into the Twitterverse, we found dozens of businesses, nonprofits and residents scattered throughout Issaquah and the Eastside. We discovered familiar faces, too, including the Issaquah School District @IssaquahSchools; Eastside Fire & Rescue @EastsideFire; Greater Issaquah Chamber of Commerce CEO Matt Bott @issaquahchamber; and dueling City Council candidates Nathan Perea @nathanperea, and Tola Marts @TolaMarts.
But the tweeters we want to hear from most are the people throughout our community with stories to tell. A handful of you have already taken us up on the invitation. For example, when we tweeted last week about the pit bull attack on popular rooster McNugget, a follower tweeted back and recounted how she once almost struck the would-be broiler with her car.
In the weeks ahead, our Twitter presence will evolve as we tweet through the first day at Issaquah schools, the Salmon Days Festival and City Council and school board campaigns.
Follow the conversation @issaquahpress.
Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.