I have seen several blogs and news stories about Twitter and how Twitter is changing journalism. Previously I've discussed the future of journalism in the face of new media a.k.a. social media a.k.a. advanced media. I've decided to throw out my two cents on how social media has recently affected me as a journalist. I hope to give fellow journalists some ideas on what they can do as well.

CBS4 News launched Twitter a few months ago and then created a CBS4 News Facebook Fan Page last month. It's been a learning process that's partly dive right in and see what happens and partly go with caution and test the water first. There isn't a day that goes by where I'm not part of a Twitter and/or Facebook conversation in the newsroom.

I've become somewhat of the Twitter expert in the newsroom simply because I dove right in and let it take me on an uncharted course. An @cbs4denver Twitter team was formed in February and I wasn't asked to be a part of the team. Soon after I got tired of not understanding what Twitter is and how it was going to be used. That day I created my own Twitter account @msmistyj.

I had no idea what I was doing. All I understood was that Twitter is a continual status update in 140 characters or less. I also knew that I could follow people and could be followed.

My first mission was to start following people. I started by using the find people function in Twitter. I searched for words like news, wine, garden, green, subjects that interest me. I quickly learned that this function only works if these words are a part of the Twitter users name, but that's all I had so I started to click follow.

I don't remember my first Tweet, but I do remember sitting and observing for a while. One of the Tweeps I followed is an assignment editor in Columbus, Ohio. He does what I do, so I really paid attention to his tweets. I started to see conversations he was having with community members and even with other assignment editors at a competing station! These competing assignment desks were tweeting about breaking news, beat calls, coverage plans. They were picking on each other, congratulating each other and empathizing with each other. I was SHOCKED.

From the searching I've done, I say 10TV and NBC4i in Columbus, Ohio are truly using Twitter to its fullest potential. Most every single member of the newsroom has a Twitter account. It's truly amazing.

It was then a light went off.

People don't just want headlines, teases and promos thrown at them. They want interaction. They want to know what's going on and to have the chance to weigh in on the situation.

Without talking to anyone at the station, I started tweeting what I was hearing on the scanners. I tweeted about phone calls. I tweeted about the craziness of covering news.

Just seeing my Twitter name doesn't tell you that I'm in news. I knew I needed to directly target metro Denver Tweeps. I jumped on the area print and TV twitter pages and started to follow the Tweeps that were following these news sources. I followed only the Tweeps from the metro area and other parts of Colorado.

I continued to Tweet. I paid attention to what everyone was saying and if I felt I could contribute to what was being said, I joined in on the conversation. I shared personal thoughts and information. I shared CBS4 News web links when I thought a story on the website could help provide information.

I am very aware of what I tweet so I don't give away exclusive coverage or share anything with the other stations in Denver that I don't want them to know. Yes, they are following me. Do they really know who I am and I am their competitor? If they're paying attention to my tweets or have even read my Twitter bio, they do. Denver is not like Columbus, Ohio where the desks talk and share openly like that.

Within three days of Tweeting I was actively involved in multiple conversations. I was contacted by a media outlet in Boulder requesting someone to interview regarding the station's DTV switch plan. I was surprised and thrilled with this. People were associating me as a news source. (At this point I emailed the news director and came clean on my Twittering because I had to ask him about the interview request! I wasn't surprised when he told me he'd been following what I was doing and he cautioned me to be aware of what I shared on Twitter.)

Next I noticed a Tweet from @moneyinmarriage on an essay contest she was hosting with the prize being free financial planning/counseling for engaged couples. I checked out her bio and clicked on her website. The moment it opened I knew she was a source for a Beating the Recession story, which is a series the station is currently running.

She was interviewed and the story ran just over a week after I started using Twitter. Since then I've made contacts with several potential story contacts and have had two more stories packaged and aired. I'm sending out tweets almost daily looking for specific individuals to interview for stories the reporters are turning.

I then used Twitter advanced search so I could find all Tweeps in Denver and surrounding areas. I followed everyone I could. People were following me back and suggesting me for others to follow. People were retweeting my tweets to share breaking news, strange news and even my general comments.

People know that I am a real person doing my job just like they do their own jobs. I've gained their trust. Now they contact me with story ideas or possible breaking news situations in their neighborhoods. They share their opinions with me and we have conversations about news coverage.

What I am doing on Twitter is being noticed by several people. I've been thanked for providing another news service. Just today I was sought out by a Twitter API partner, Wikimetro, to join this social media site. (What's way odd is that I directly emailed at work. My work email is not associated at all with my Twitter account. So I was really sought out for someone to research to find my work email.)

It is truly and simply amazing.

This week @cbs4denver started tweeting during the editorial meetings to share the news process and to encourage feedback and story ideas. The responses and interactions have been encouraging and are growing. During these meetings @cbs4denver is no longer just a headline service.

People are noticing what we are doing. They appreciate participating. I feel there is now more transparency in what I and the rest of us do in this newsroom. This is a great feeling. As a journalist I feel better about what I do than I ever have in the past.

In the past two weeks I have had daily conversations with coworkers on how to use Twitter. Coworkers are starting to set up their own personal Twitter accounts as well as contribute to @cbs4news.

Today I believe it was said that I have dual Twitter identities. This is absolutely correct. When I contribute to @cbs4denver I share headlines and seek out input on stories in a professional manner. As @msmistyj I am more open and use Twitter lingo and converse freely. I still don't give away any of the station's news integrity and whenever possible I lead Tweeps to @cbs4denver, www.cbs4denver.com and/or the CBS4 News Facebook Fan Page.

I close out my Twitter convo almost every night with: Scanners are calm. My news night has ended but @cbs4denver is always on! Become a fan of CBS4 News on Facebook http://moourl.com/a10y2

Tweeps have told me they are now converting too or have converted to Channel 4 viewers because of what I share on Twitter. I know for sure one follower even joined the Facebook Fan Page because of me. (She sent me a Tweet telling me so!)

Twitter has made me a better assignment editor. Since I want to tweet to keep the conversations going, to keep me relevant to my followers, I'm listening more closely to the scanners than ever before!