El Colombiano reaches new audiences through Twitter storytelling

Twittercrónica” social network stories are published in print and digital editions of the newspaper reaching non twitter users.
Twittercrónica” social network stories are published in print and digital editions of the newspaper reaching non twitter users.

Twittercrónica is a story-telling tool born in the Internet. Journalists from El Colombiano, the main newspaper in Colombia’s second city, Medellin, are exchanging book and pen for smartphones.

Coming directly from the place where news is developing, journalists ask questions and share their discoveries to El Colombiano audience via Twitter. 

Working in real time, journalists add readers’ comments and opinions to their tweets creating rich, interactive content. The resulting product is a story, not just a collection of separate tweets. Users and journalists information is spread under the hashtag #Twittercrónica, and the result is a choral voice in which journalists and tweeters tell a story together.

Twittercrónica runs once a week, usually on Thursdays. Photos, videos, and short sentences are posted in El Colombiano’s Twitter account every five to 15 minutes during a two-hour period. During those two hours, El Colombiano’s Twitter account publishes only the Twittercrónica, and no other post are published – which guarantees that it maintains a chronological narrative. 

How it works 

After collecting his story information out in the field, the reporter returns to the newsroom and writes an article that includes not only information and voices collected for the Twittercrónica, but also other sources reactions to each topic addressed. This article is published every Friday in the print and Web versions of the newspaper, thus reaching people that never use Twitter.

El Colombiano ran its first Twittercrónica in 2010, about pedestrian mobility in downtown Medellin during Christmas.

So far, 230 Twittercrónicas have been carried out, an innovation already recognised in the country, and people contact El Colombiano to propose subjects for the Twittercrónica.

Thanks to this new approach to news-producing, replicated again and again since, subjects as the environment, public works, security or cultural issues have been shared with Twitter users. One week the focus may be on transport and mobility issues, the next one it may deal with places to dance tango in Medellín. 

The initiative has been successful thanks to the high involvement of users. Opinions and information provided by people are key to the success of a strategy that is based on the firm belief in the power of social networks for communities to have their own voice.

About Margarita Barrero

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