Saturday, March 21, 2009

Trib a-Twitter

To borrow the title of a years-ago movie, the newspaper industry is dancing as fast as it can — moving with speed less deliberate than desperate in a bid to remain a vital part of the 21st century information landscape.

Last week was not a good one for dead-tree media: The Seattle Post-Intelligencer ceased operation as a print product and reconfigured itself as a solely online news outlet, the first in the nation to make that pivot. Less than three weeks earlier, the Rocky Mountain News closed up shop entirely.

On Thursday, the Chicago Tribune made its own concession to the relentless presence of the Internet. In its masthead, the Trib published the names of its brain trust in Twitterspeak, with their account names on Twitter, the social-networking utility that’s attaining a critical mass of public awareness. Want to contact publisher Tony Hunter? Reach him on Twitter at @twhunter.

It’s a savvy move for relevance, but with red ink still flowing through its corporate veins, it will take more than that to rescue the company. The Tribune Company, parent of the beleaguered Los Angeles Times, among other media properties, filed for bankruptcy protection in December. The company is looking down the barrel of a $12 billion debt.

Maybe the Trib editors will tweet requests to pass the hat.

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