The Web was all abuzz yesterday with the story about Andy Carvin and his use of Twitter to “cover” the crisis in the Middle East. After the reading the story in The Washington Post, I began monitoring Andy’s Tweets and there are a few things that baffle me. Andy is Tweeting every few minutes. His content is coming from carefully cultivated sources that range from professional to amateur. The content isn’t validated or filtered. He seems to see his role as one of aggregator/facilitator instead of expert. I like the way he poses questions to his followers and involves them in the story. He’s got a very loyal following.
I also found it interesting that he’s tweeting as @acarvin. There’s no overt affiliation with NPR except in Andy’s profile. Yet NPR is clearly investing a lot in this social media experiment. Andy is tweeting so frequently, it must be his full-time job. This leaves me wondering what NPR would gain from this experiment? Maybe NPR is so forward thinking that they are spearheading the social media correspondent concept without concern for their brand? But the loyal followers really belongs to Andy, not to NPR. The followers are interested in the topic of the Middle East, tying Andy’s brand to that topic. Once the Middle East crisis dies down (if it ever does), can Andy move on to the next topic? Or will his brand become too affiliated with the Middle East crisis?
Am I over thinking this?
I think this is a fabulous case study on what journalism might look like in the years to come. But it does raise several sticky issues for publishing organizations. I’m personally fascinated by what Andy is doing and can’t wait to see how his role evolves!