Journalism on Twitter: Too much PR?

While attempting to collaborate with Twitterers for my latest story, I got one Tweet (which I can’t find) asking me how many of the responses came from PR pros and self-serving entrepreneurs trying to get their own pitch into the story. The answer, without an exhaustive recount: Many.

But you know what? It doesn’t really matter. Some of us in the past tried to divide the information world in two, those who had their own point of view on one side, those paid to communicate one on the other. But I think in the world of blogging and twittering, that wall has been crumbling. Most of us publish now, and like it or not, the distinction is not usually about who’s getting paid by whom. There are too many voices for us to find and untangle all the relationships. The questions now are simply: Who is providing good, credible information and fresh insights? After all, this isn’t one PR person on the phone dictating the story. Instead it’s one tweet or blog post, one of many, making its case. Clear disclosure helps boost credibility, but I’ve come not to expect it.

I didn’t know, for example, that Ggroovin worked at Dell. (He does have it on his profile.) But he twittered the following message: Dell exec @ WOMMA conf sez >$500K in sales via Twitter special discounts: 11:33 AM May 09, 2008 from web in reply to stevebaker. I asked another Dell Twitterer to confirm, and then used it in the story. These are new relationships that are being forged. They’re based on information, and most of it is out in the open. The world was never as simple as our old rules. It’s even more complicated now.

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