Twitter CEO Speaks to Role in Journalism and Communications at ONA12

by Chris Metinko, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire/San Francisco

Chris Metinko

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo made clear two points while speaking in San Francisco recently:  he does not consider himself the current leader of free speech, but he does realize the company’s place in journalism and communications, and new tools are on the way to aid those industries.

Costolo made the remarks while speaking to more than 500 journalists and communications professionals at the Online News Association’s annual conference attended by Business Wire. During an onstage interview with Emily Bell, director of Tow Centre for Digital Journalism, Costolo laughed off a question about how it feels to be the head of the free press in the 21st century.

“I don’t view that as my job,” said Costolo, adding he considers Twitter a tech company in the media business. He, however, did acknowledge Twitter’s growing impact on the world of journalism and news dissemination.

“Hopefully Twitter has become a tremendously valuable tool to journalists,” said Costolo, who spoke at the same conference three years ago when Twitter had 80 employees. It now has 1,300 employees.

Twitter’s growing impact among communication professionals could be seen at the conference — where there were more than 34,500 tweets about the conference with hashtag #ONA12, compared to 20,000 tweets for last year’s conference. In a recent study, just under half of all journalists surveyed said they use Twitter for sourcing stories.

Realizing that impact, Costolo said Twitter is working on curation tools he hopes to make available to newsrooms to host live events on the social media platform.

“We have known for a long time that when events happen in the real world, the shared experience is on Twitter and we want to create an ability to curate events,” Costolo said.

He added that Twitter will have the ability by the end of the year to allow users to download past Tweets — something that could help many in the communications field with research and gauging public opinion. Although he cautioned the proposed timeline may not be exact.

“The caveat is that this is the CEO saying this,” Costolo laughed, “not the engineer who’s building this.”

Other tidbits form Costolo:

  • When asked about a Twitter phone, Costolo said he never says never but that is “not the way we think about the company.”
  • Costolo cited New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady as the person he would most like to see on Twitter who currently is not.
  • Costolo declined to give disclose Twitter’s revenues when asked — noting the positives of being a private company.

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