Why are we overthinking ReTweets?

 Really? Are we really banging our heads against a wall trying to figure out a 140-character RT?

It’s pretty simple. Anything a journalist Tweets/ReTweets/favourites is the same as putting a sign on their lawn.

And yet, it appears the journalistic community is wringing its hands with how to deal with the humble ReTweet.

First, AP comes out with its new ReTweeting guidelines.

Today, Poynter‘s Jeff Sondeman wrote about The problem with ReTweets and how journalists can solve it.

Jeff has three suggestions for ReTweeting, and how each should be used:

  • The native ReTweet, or simple RT, for passing along information
  • The manual ReTweet, including the original link but writing your own preface (“This is a great way to ask a question, note your skepticism or add more information as you pass along the original tweet,” Sonderman writes)
  • The modified ReTweet, Similar to the RT, but you change the original language of the Tweet.
Sonderman then adds a fourth RT, his own concept: the neutral Tweet

But perhaps journalists could convey that sentiment by creating a “neutral retweet” for the times when they want to repost something but don’t want people to read anything into their motives.

NT @BarackObama: President Obama speaks about the American Jobs Act: http://wh.gov/live #WeCantWait

I too, am going to propose something radical.

I propose that we trust journalists to think for themselves. We are professionals, after all.

That we be held as accountable for our ReTweets as anything we publish online, in print, on Facebook and *gasp* on Twitter.

And that the beauty of social media is that we are able to see the people behind the journalist. And by creating a massive RT’ing structure we are simply pretending journalists are robots without opinions.

I agree with Mathew Ingram‘s post today on Twitter and Journalism, and that it shouldn’t be this complicated.

By pretending that their journalists don’t have opinions, when everyone knows that they do, mainstream media outlets are suggesting their viewers or readers are too stupid to figure out where the truth lies, or too thick to consider the facts of a story if the reporter happens to have retweeted someone or joined a Facebook page.

The bottom line is that it would be nice if we could admit that journalists are human beings, and come up with social-media policies that actually encourage and take advantage of that kind of behavior, instead of trying to stamp out any trace of humanity. Journalists would be better off, and so would readers.

Folks, we’re smart people. It’s 140 characters. Let’s spend more time on reporting the story than talking about how to RT.

(Photo from chethstudios.net)

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