Nabbing tweets before they fly away

By DougHaddix

Part of the challenge of Twitter is scooping up relevant tweets before they vanish into the digital abyss. My favorite low-cost tool? TweetArchivist.

The recent national Excellence in Journalism convention in Nashville provided a real-time test of the service. Results have been impressive: more than 8,400 tweets captured and downloaded into an Excel spreadsheet. Plus, TweetArchivist produces eye-catching visuals and charts with key analytics tied to a hashtag.

Here’s how it works: Simply set up an archive by typing in a hashtag, key phrase or Twitter handle that you want to track. Every hour, TweetArchivist updates the search and lassos the results. At any point, you can download the results into a PDF file or an Excel spreadsheet. Online, you can click through various charts and graphics to explore the Twitter conversation.

Pricing is flexible. I chose a one-month plan ($19.99) that allows tracking of up to three archives. That’s ideal for a conference or news event that’s contained to a short time period. A recurring monthly subscription costs $14.99 for three archives; it can be canceled any time.

For journalists, the service could be used effectively to track hashtags on the beat or key sources. During an election season, TweetArchivist could provide an automated way to gather and analyze each candidate’s campaign.

A new offshoot of the service – dubbed TagSleuth – is designed to search four services: Twitter, Instagram, Vine and Tumblr. Subscription plans start at $24.99 monthly.

As a test of TweetArchivist, I set up an archive for the conference hashtag (#EIJ14) and downloaded results a few days after the joint gathering of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Radio Television Digital News Association.

A few highlights:

• Impressions: The 8,418 tweets and retweets with #EIJ14 appeared 22.9 million times on Twitter feeds.
• Top users: Who posted the most tweets and retweets with this hashtag? @EIJ_News (375), @rachelcstella (203), @spj_tweets (194) and @Georgia Dawkins (175).
• Influencers: The tweeters with the largest followings who used the hashtag were @karaswisher (966,601), @NPR (370,069) and @BrianStelter (237,244). Engaging with key influencers can help spread your message or story to an even larger audience.
• User mentions: This measure gives a sense of who created a lot of buzz during a conference or news event. At EIJ14, the top three individuals were @karaswisher (791), @stevebuttry (224) and @atompkins (189).
• Hashtags: Other top hashtags in #EIJ14 tweets included #Ferguson, #Storify and #wearables.
• Source: How tweets were posted can give insights into the audience. For this conference, the top three devices were iPhone (3,368 tweets), Web browser (1,103), Android phone (851) and iPad (835).

Beyond the metrics, the spreadsheet of all 4,550 tweets (excluding retweets) gives me another option: Get highlights, tips and links from sessions that coincided with the ones I saw in person.

Doug Haddix is director of the Kiplinger Program and assistant vice president of Editorial Communications at Ohio State University.

Kiplinger Program’s Kevin Smith receives coveted SPJ Key

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 By RobinMChenoweth

On a 90-degree day last July, more than a dozen journalists holed up in an upstairs meeting room at the Ohio State University campus. The air conditioning was cranked but the committee was still sweating it out. Before them was projected the preamble for Society of Professional Journalists code of ethics. It was their job to revise it.

The group, wordsmiths all, spent 90 minutes parsing just 56 words of the prologue; this after a yearlong debate by SPJ members on the nuances of the language.

Spearheading the changes was outgoing SPJ ethics chair Kevin Z. Smith, who also serves as the deputy director of the Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs Journalism. He had spent months piecing together various edits of the new code, orchestrating plans for the meeting, even arranging for a “geographic” food exchange among the committee. But in the sixth hour of revisions, someone broke out the Georgetown cupcakes, St. Louis crumb cake and the chocolate-covered toffee, effectively ruining the exchange. The committee needed a sugar boost and Kevin didn’t protest.

The task at hand was too important. That’s because journalism ethics is eminently important to Kevin, who served for 23 years served on the ethics committee, two terms as its chair. Whatever it took to hammer out this much-needed code revision, he was going to support. This was his baby.

So no one was too surprised — except Kevin himself — when he was awarded the Wells Memorial Key at Excellence in Journalism 2014 conference in Nashville Saturday. The award, named after the second president of Sigma Delta Chi, Chester C. Wells, is the highest honor an SPJ member can receive.

“No one deserved it more,” one tweet read.

Kevin was praised for his commitment to ethics and to journalism in general.

“He knocked on the doors of countless congressmen and officials to push for a federal shield law, spread the Society’s message throughout the world — even staring Ebola in the eye (in Sierra Leone in June) — and somehow got a normally slow-moving vessel to adopt a Code of Ethics overhaul in one year,” wrote Andrew Seaman, the new ethics chair. “Even in that list, I’m forgetting countless other contributions he’s made to the Society, journalism and individuals over the years.”

After that marathon weekend of code revision in July, Kevin wrote about his feelings in Code Words, the SPJ Ethics blog.

“Journalism has changed dramatically in 18 years. Ethics, not so much, but the way we want to address ethical issues needs to be reviewed from time to time or we grow irrelevant to newer generations.”

Winning the Wells Memorial Key, he tweeted after receiving it, was a “stunning end” to the day. But the biggest accomplishment — as people who know him will attest — was that the SPJ delegates overwhelmingly voted in favor of the revised ethics code.

Journalism, and democratic process, had won out again. And that chocolate-covered toffee wasn’t bad, either. Congratulations, Kevin.

Robin Chenoweth is Program Coordinator for the Kiplinger Program.