The top newspapers on Twitter? Try this list

April 8th, 2011

Guest post by Mathilde Piard

In the past few days there’s been a blog post about the top 25 newspapers on Twitter that’s been making the rounds. In fact, it’s been circulated so far and wide that I’ve heard about it from multiple coworkers who don’t tend to run in different Twitter and/or reading sharing circles as I do, and who were wondering why two of our newspapers weren’t on the list (the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Austin American-Statesman).

The problem with the post over at The Wrap is that it worked off a list from from the fall. Back then, the Journalistics post only looked at the top 25 newspapers in terms of circulation because it was part of a series comparing those exact 25 papers on Twitter, Facebook, website traffic, and Google PageRank. I commented on the recent blog post to point this out, as did Jeremy Porter, the author of the original list at But because Dylan Stableford hasn’t clarified in the post that his list is just for the top 25 newspapers by circulation (although he did update it to include at the bottom a few of the omissions, thank you) and since most people don’t read comments anyway, I figured it would be best to just provide my own list of the top 25 newspapers on Twitter, one that actually goes by number of followers on Twitter, not circulation.

Some will argue that ranking Twitter accounts by number of followers is a load of hogwash, either because Twitter’s recommended list skews things or because it’s not a good measure of “engagement”. The truth is, you could argue the same about any type of metric. Companies don’t share specific traffic numbers, so the only way to compare websites to each other is to use ComScore’s number of monthly unique visitors. Uniques don’t measure how long visitors stay on sites, how many page views they provide, how many comments they leave or pages they share with their friends.

Which leads me to my next thought: we shouldn’t have to resort to manually compiling lists like these of top accounts on Facebook and Twitter (by the way, Chris Snider does this every month for the top newspapers on Facebook). MuckRack has rankings of journalists by beat and region, but only tracks individual journalists, not brands. Jeremy Porter had a great idea when he compared newspaper circulation with other online metrics – but it would be great to see that kind of stuff for more than just the top 25 (mostly national) papers. And why look only at newspapers? I keep secretly hoping Cory Bergman at Lost Remote will compile a list of top TV accounts on Facebook and Twitter, since he’s one of the only ones to cover what local television stations are doing with social media – but again, he shouldn’t have to. (UPDATE: actually, he already did, ha!). Wouldn’t it be cool to compare TV ratings or radio cumes with online stats? And why keep it to media organizations? There are so many brands out there that fudge the line between media, and, well, everything else. Just like ComScore tracks unique visitors for websites, it should also track number of Twitter followers and Facebook fans.

Anyway, here’s my list, and here’s my methodology:

- I used the top of a list that Robert Quigley had compiled on this very blog in the wake of the original Journalistics list (which didn’t really state clearly that it was part of a series comparing how the top 25 newspapers tacked online in a variety of metrics, so it too drew a lot of criticism from people who didn’t get it at first, including myself. Apologies Jeremy!) However, I kept to just the top 25-ish, because frankly I don’t have time to be as thorough as Robert was and go through nearly 200 newspapers.

- I’ve kept the list to US newspapers – no online/iPad only publications and I also took The Onion off the list. Sorry guys, it’s just easier to compare apples to apples. All the more reason somebody like ComScore should be tracking this for everybody, not just newspapers, perhaps not even just news orgs.

- In the case of the San Francisco Chronicle and the Arizona Republic, I went with the Twitter accounts that Jeremy Porter/Journalistics and Dylan Stableford/The Wrap used rather than the ones Robert Quigley had on this blog – as in, @sfgate instead of @sfchron_alert and @azcentral instead of @arizonarepublic. That seemed only fair since Robert’s list used @bostonupdate instead of @bostonglobe and @coloneltribune instead of @chicagotribune. That explains why the Chronicle went from 51st to 18th place, and Arizona Republic from 158th to 25th.

- I also added the Minneapolis Star Tribune, which The Wrap and Journalistics lists did have, but Old Media New Tricks did not. Interesting to note, it looks like the username used to be @mn_news and was changed to @startribune without claiming the old username. So I just did, to avoid someone else perhaps ill intentioned grabbing it. Hey Minnesota Star Tribune folks, if you want @mn_news back, holler and I’ll gladly hand it over.

- Because I removed The Onion from the list, I’m only confident about the top 24 or so listed. Beyond those, I had a quick look around the various lists to find the lucky #25, and that’s how I realized the fudging up of the other accounts like the Chronicle, Republic etc, so I extended the list to beyond 25, as a means or righting a previous slight I suppose J. If I missed your newspaper, I apologize. I’ll happily share the Google doc with you so you can add it yourself, or if you feel like updating Robert Quigley’s list of 200 papers (thus further emphasizing my point that someone like ComScore should really be tracking this stuff instead)

- A word about growth rates since the October lists: The Chronicle, Star Tribune and Washington Post lead with 127%, 91% and 84% (followed by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution with 63% – shameless plug, they are one of Cox Media Group’s papers ;) – and a handful of others in the 40-50% range). Interestingly, there is one account that had a negative growth rate: The Chicago Tribune @coloneltribune account with -2%. Ouch. I wonder what the story is there.

Top newspapers by Twitter followers

See the Google doc.

Piard is the social media manager for Cox Media Group Digital

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Entry Filed under: Guest Post,Twitter,Uncategorized

  • Mathilde Piard

    Yay, thanks Chris! I’ll go ahead and send over a list of our stations :P

  • Chris Snider

    Thanks for linking to my list of newspapers on Facebook. I have started to compile a list of TV stations on Facebook as well – although I likely will be missing a lot of stations when that first launches. That should be live next week.

  • Robert Quigley

    Very cool, Chris. Looking forward to the TV list. Sounds like a big job :)

  • Mathilde Piard

    PS Chris actually it looks like Cory already had a list I didn’t know about :)

  • mntim

    Looking forward to the radio list, too… @MPRnews is up there.

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  • Afabella

    I like this list much better ;-)

  • Chad Graham

    Nice list, Mathilde and thanks for going with @azcentral. In the past, we used both @azcentral and @arizonarepublic, but there was some brand confusion. We made the decision a few months ago to use @azcentral as the main account. We now use @arizonarepublic to engage with followers who have questions for the newsroom or our staff.

  • ctiedje

    October: 9,366
    April: 12,640
    35.38% Growth

  • Gregory

    What I have been saying for the last couple of years is media companies (or any brand really) need comprehensive analytics for measuring engagement with its audience. These lists are just a piece of a total picture. Like page views, duplication with Facebook likes and twitter followers/list are a big problem. I believe in making ultimate dashboards (comScore, twiterlyzer, Klout, Tap 11, Nielsen, Arbitron, ABC etc.) and having a team that follows monitors movement with all the caveats to help tell the story of engagement.

    No system is perfect, but I believe with the right people and the right tools the story can become clearer.

    Some cool pieces on metrics:

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