Year in Review: 5 most influential media tweeters


One in a series of posts examining the best (and worst) of 2010.

This year several tweeters stood out in digital publishing. Despite being limited to 140 characters per post, they "spoke" with a louder voice than others partly because of their reputations and partly because what they had to say was so important. Here are five that had an impact. 

Jeff Jarvis

With more than 56,000 followers, BuzzMachine's Jeff Jarvis is perhaps the most influential tweeter in the digital publishing cosmos. On any given day, Jarvis has probably fired off several acute observations on the trajectory of the digital age before you have even woken up.

This blogger, J-school professor, author, Guardian columnist and podcast host is astonishingly productive. Jarvis regularly appears on TV to explain the new digital age, but he really comes alive in his combative tweets. In the nascent bloom of the Twittersphere Jarvis has already logged in north of 16,000 tweets.

Jarvis is a fearless tweeter, even going so far as to tweet about his battle with prostate cancer. The founder of Entertainment weekly sets the bar high for all in the Twittersphere.



Anil Dash

With 347,688 followers, Anil Dash likes to tweet about the upcoming Prince show at Madison Square Garden, among other topics. Part of the influence and charm of Dash's tweets are the flashes of his personality that he allows to come out at unexpected moments. For example: "People really don't take it well when I respond to 'Happy Holidays' with 'Thanks, but I don't have any holidays this month.' Oh, well. "

The most engaging tweeters mix vital information, humor and the most precious of all digital commodities -- an interesting personality. Anil has always been a step ahead of the times; it's what makes following his tweets in real time so compelling and so necessary for digital media professionals.

Dash began as a blogger in 1999, roughly five years ahead of everyone else. He is now a digital media entrepreneur -- and a very respected and successful one at that. But his tweets, dear reader, are truly on fire, particularly: "Every CEO of a social network should be required to use the default privacy settings for all of their accounts on the service "

Clay Shirky

At 94,860 followers, the author and professor of new media at NYU is one of the deepest thinkers on the Big Subjects of this digital era. If you are not following Clay Shirky, you really should be. His tweets on the subject of Wikileaks were particularly ferocious (he defends it and has donated).

Shirky is as wonderful a writer -- in 140 characters and longer -- as he is a big thinker, which is a rare combination. A sample tweet, from Nov. 13: "DailyBeast + Newsweek = (AOL + TimeWarner + 10 years - 349.99 billion dollars). First time as tragedy, second time as farce." Or this, on Halloween: "Off to the neighborhood Halloween Parade. Going as a sexy DMCA Takedown notice." Shirky's recent article on The Power of Social Media, which he has promoted heavily on Twitter, is also a must read for digital pros. One particularly acute observation in the form of a Tweet: "Wikileaks has had more scoops in 3 years than The Washington Post has had in 30. "

Jay Rosen

If there was such a thing as a Twitterati, Jay Rosen would have a choice seat at that table. A colleague of Shirky at NYU's innovative Studio 20, Jay doesn't just teach media, he does media. Rosen calls what he does on Twitter "Mindcasting," and no one would ever argue with that. He can only be properly construed as the conscience of journalism in this hour of the wolf for that breed.

At 47,224 followers, Rosen also joins Jarvis on the board of the innovative Ben Franklin Project, which gave us that wonderful experiment in hyperlocal journalism, The Journal Register Company's ideaLab. Jay also happens to be a member of the Wikipedia Advisory Board. A sample tweet: "Compared notes with Steve Waldman today, adviser to the FCC on what can be done to help accountability journalism. His report is due in Jan ."

Arianna Huffington

With 503,818 followers, the co-founder and editor of The Huffington Post is probably the most influential digital media professional regularly tweeting. Her tweets just happen to be compelling, following her fast-paced, jetset lifestyle in and out of the rooms of the world's most powerful people in the most glamorous locations. The view, quite frankly, is nice. A sample tweet: "In st paulo at a roundtable discussion with brazilian bloggers and journalists -- many blogging since the mid nineties").

Huffington is not above moral anger. "A great day for America, the military and national security. A bad day for bigotry and Sen. McCain," she wrote on the Don't Ask Don't Tell vote before Congress last week. But even her rants are compelling. There is just so much that is good about Arianna's tweets: the proximity to power, the juicy tidbits shared, the voyeurism of a jet-set life, the charm and, of course, the infamous razor sharp wit.

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