Millions of Americans swear by (and at) Facebook, but many local news junkies prefer Twitter. The 140-character pith makes excellent news feed (if you follow wisely) and, unlike Facebook, Twitter doesn't charge you to reach all your followers.
So which local newsperson has the biggest follower count?
Not a TV anchor, nor a political reporter — not even a Vikings correspondent.
Michael Russo, come on down.
The Star Tribune’s NHL reporter sits atop MinnPost’s first “Twitter 1,000” — actually 1,040 journalists and news commentators statewide. Russo’s 32,802 followers nearly beats his paper’s main feed (37,500), and easily tops number two Dan Barreiro (24,401).
If you ever doubted Twitter's a virtual water-cooler, this list confirms it: sports, politics, weather and technology make up most of the top 30.
Sports guys — and they are all guys — nab eight of the top 10 spots and 14 of the top 20. The balance? News junkies with an entertainment bent: the Strib’s James Lileks, MPR’s John Moe, WCCO’s Jason DeRusha and Pioneer Press tech savant Julio Ojeda-Zapata. Political reporters dapple the top 50, though a partisan blogger, Minnesota Progressive Project’s Eric Pusey, ranks above any of them.
As in newsrooms, white males dominate.
The top-ranked woman? MPR’s Cathy Wurzer at 35th, with KARE’s Rena Sarigianopoulous, MPR’s Kerri Miller, WCCO’s Erica Mayer and the Strib’s Rachel Stassen-Berger comprising six women in the top 50. Near as I can tell, the Strib’s LaVelle Neal (third/22,126 followers) is the only black in the top 50, and Ojeda-Zapata (20th/12,967) the only Latino.
Who isn’t included? Locals with primarily national focuses, such as Travel Channel bug-eater Andrew Zimmern (487,923), Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey (29,292), AllYourTV’s Rick Ellis (13,202) and Boing Boing’s Maggie Koerth-Baker (11,443).
I defined local news broadly, but left off purer entertainers like music deejays and gossip yammerers. You could argue some sports hosts should be in the discard pile, but most interact with local newsmakers.
The tables below are sortable. There's a search bar above the tables, and below are drop-down menus where you can limit the list to specific organization, specialty and/or medium.
Minnesota media individuals on Twitter
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Counts were compiled Dec. 1-3, based on three of my public Twitter lists, plus brute-force hunts through follower rosters. Some journalists are listed twice, since I didn’t distinguish between personal and professional accounts. This is Version 1.0, so I’m sure there are some errors and omissions; if you catch any, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a direct Twitter message. We’ll dynamically update the list.
The obvious needs saying: this list isn’t a doppelganger for great journalism. Lots of fine folks rank near the bottom of our rankings, and some of the better investigative reporters eschew social media entirely. For many, there are simply more effective ways to spend one’s professional hours.
Still, Twitter can be a great reporting/discussion/engagement tool — not to mention fun and a traffic driver. There are no judgments about who uses Twitter “best,” just which journalists have the biggest brands.
Because some media outlets emphasize organizational feeds, here's a second list ranking about 180 of those.
Minnesota media organizations on Twitter
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It’s probably no shock the Star Tribune’s main feed is No. 1. However, MPR News tops KARE, reflecting public-radio’s digital emphasis. MPRers like Moe, Wurzer, Kerri Miller, Tom Scheck and Bob Collins are right up there with KARE personalities Eric Perkins, Sven Sundgaard and Rena Sarigianopoulous.
One thing that surprised me: Twitter tops Facebook for many local organizations. The Strib has nearly twice as many main-feed Twitter followers as Facebook “likes” (17,154). MPR, City Pages, Mpls.St.Paul magazine, the PiPress, MinnPost, Finance & Commerce, Vita.Mn and Minnesota Monthly also do better with the 140 set.
Except for WCCO-TV’s breaking news feed, TV audiences still prefer Facebook. KARE ranks third on our Twitter list but has nearly double the Facebook likes: 62,288 versus 32,460. Fox9's Facebook page more than doubles its Twitter total.
An unexpected Twitter overperformer: the Catholic Spirit, fifth among organizations, with 25,877 followers. (The St. Paul/Minneapolis archdiocese’s spiritual antagonist, City Pages, ranks fourth with 263 more adherents.)
On the individual side, bloggers like Pusey and NBA guy Zach Harper land high, as does WCCO behind-the-scencester Mayer, though they are more exception than rule in the upper reaches.
Of course, eyes inevitably drift to the bottom of the list, the resting place of many dragooned by social-media managers. There are still some gems there, often penned in by small coverage areas.
Some broader numerical observations:
- 309 local newsies top 1,000 followers.
- The median is 440 followers.
- The distribution is geometric, with a rapid follower falloff from top finishers.
- Still, the follower distribution is relatively compact: 1 to 37,500. Zimmern’s count alone is bigger than the top 33 here.
- If you add up both lists, they contain about 2.1 million followers — one-tenth of Taylor Swift’s 21 million.
Have fun looking for your some favorites, or even yourself!