An Early Look at News Media Twitter Lists: Not Much Traction

With all the buzz about Twitter Lists I thought I’d take a look at how some major news sites are doing so far with their own Lists.

Looking at selection of Twitter accounts from 30 31 news sites, I checked the number of Lists that have been created and how many followers each has attracted to-date. These figures will change quite a bit in the weeks and months to come, but I wanted to capture an initial snapshot. (Note: currently Twitter allows users to create a maximum of 20 Lists.)

Twitter account
(Lists page)
Lists CreatedAverage # of followersMost followers
(on one List)

As can be seen it is still early days for both Twitter List creation and user adoption.

As of today half of the news sites have not created any Lists, and only four sites have more than 10. The average number of followers is still very low, and all of the Lists have less than 1,000 followers (many of them significantly less). The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, The New York Times and The Huffington Post have done the most so far with List development.

It will be interesting to see how things evolve over time.


  1. says

    Interesting, and kind of sad that @BreakingTweets, even with just three lists, is doing more than many of these news organizations.

    I’d also say @PBS should be added to this table. They’ve created about a dozen lists so far.

    Nice roundup. I’m sure this will change drastically in time, but it’s clear who the early adopters are.

  2. says

    I still think it remains to be seen how news organizations really plan to use these lists. Certainly the NY Times is paving the way, but I’m curious as to what they’ll do with them, how they’ll promote them externally, etc.

  3. says

    Good point Daniel – it will be interesting to see what kind of Lists users find most valuable. For example making a List for the entire editorial staff is a popular first step right now. But since larger organizations cover a wide range of topics, will such a List be too broad to be engaging? Making Lists for specific beats brings more focus, but the average person tweets about a lot more than just their area of coverage (including a lot of random, personal stuff). So even those Lists will have a lot of noise on them.

  4. says

    Also, how comfortable will news organizations be linking to other sources? To reporters’ sources? If we’re truly in an era of open-source journalism, I say reporters share their access (sort of) to sources via Twitter lists.

    This isn’t to say the sources will RESPOND, but it’s an interesting way of opening one’s reporter notebook to a willing audience.

  5. says

    (By the way, I’m not sure if you know who I am, but I saw you commented on this Fast Company story about “Inspired Social Media Profiles,” and Colonel Tribune was one of the profiles. I created it, and found this blog through a quick Google search.

    Thanks for the kind words on the FC article!

  6. says

    I’m definitely in favor of using Twitter to let readers “behind the curtain” a bit in terms of the development process behind particular stories, sharing additional info that didn’t make the article, etc. In terms of sharing access to sources, in some cases confidentiality comes into play, but there could be instances where that might add value and potentially give stories continued life once they are published. In terms of linking out to other news orgs, when it makes sense in a conversation I say absolutely. Publishers are getting better at doing that on-site too.

    I didn’t realize it was you who created @ColonelTribune, I use that often as an example of a successful persona (in fact I mentioned in this post on diversified Twitter strategies for news sites).

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