Tumblr, the sleeping giant for journalists on social media

We all like to keep a step ahead of the game, particularly when knowing your social media counts for a helluva lot in today’s modern newsroom.

So here’s a tip: learn how to use Tumblr.

Tumblr has become the stand-out tool of choice for anyone who wants to start a web presence quickly – but not at the cost of powerful tools or presentation value.

And for journalists, it solves a simple but frustrating problem – how to curate and archive the vast amounts of content we’re pushing out across the web.

Take a look at this. Christian Purefoy is CNN’s West Africa correspondent, and a massive part of his job is sharing content on social media. With Tumblr, he can collate all of his tweets (archiving them as he goes) while also posting video, images, infographics… all within the same tool.


It provides Christian with a great-looking repository for his work – and harnesses the power of Twitter – through auto-tweeting features – to bring people there.

And it’s not as if it’s a tricky tool either — all you need to get this very sophisticated content management system on your computer is a simple bookmark on your toolbar.

It’s a dead easy way to keep hold of all the amazing content people like Christian produces on the fly. The sort of stuff that is valuable, but perhaps not valuable enough to spend some time post-trip sorting out.

And look at the current alternative. Lyse Doucet, for example, is perhaps one of the most underrated news tweeters out there.

In Egypt, her coverage using social networks was ground-breaking, at least among some of the stuffier BBC journalists who didn’t give Twitter a second look until someone like Lyse showed how important it is.

But I can’t be bothered to go and find you any examples of why Lyse is so good with the medium, because to do so would mean trawling through weeks and weeks of Twitter posts.

So, some of the best on-the-ground reporting from Tahrir Square is simply lost. Had Lyse adopted a Tumblr page, we wouldn’t have this problem.

Christian isn’t the only journalist making the most of Tumblr, by the way. Take a look at the Guardian’s efforts. Impressive, no? More impressive are the individual pages, as demonstrated by Josh Halliday here.

When Twitter was first getting off the ground, a lot of us snapped up accounts early. But, not entirely sure what it was useful for, we’d then toddle off back to Facebook and MySpace before eventually deciding to give it another go a few months down the line. Indeed, I documented that return for myself here.

Like Twitter, Tumblr is slowly getting people giving it a second chance. Paul Bradshaw, notably, seems not to have regretted going back to the service after giving up first time around.

So yes. Learn Tumblr – you’ll be one step ahead of your colleagues.

6 thoughts on “Tumblr, the sleeping giant for journalists on social media

  1. As an organisation Tumblr have certainly done very well in getting journalists and news organisations to use the tool. I have to say I probably don’t use it to its full power – largely because I find Delicious to be much more flexible for my own purposes. But for those who haven’t got time to get to grips with plugging in Delicious’s various RSS feeds to any platform you want (including Tumblr, which is an excellent off the shelf aggregator by the way), Tumblr is probably a more intuitive way to bookmark-publish-and-tweet as a journalist.

    However, I think you need to do a little tweaking to make things more findable (and avoid the Twitter problem you mention) – you can add a tag cloud to a Tumblog using this: http://rive.rs/projects/tumblr-tag-clouds

  2. Tumblr is a great tool. Over here at Kapost, we integrate with every CMS (including tumblr) so you can easily set up your feeds and create a curation engine (among other things). Lots of people ask us why we didn’t make Kapost inside WordPress, well your article explains one of the main reasons. Each CMS has its own strengths but all of them need a way to easy manage content, other writers and guest posters. This is what Kapost does and that’s why we made it CMS agnostic.

    But, yes, i agree that Tumblr is a terrific platform and a great one for journalists to embrace.

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