How I became the Twitter video thread guy
It all originated with a random John Kelly interview on Fox News.
Your friendly correspondent is traveling to New Orleans this weekend for an old friend's wedding — I’m currently typing this 30,000 feet over Missouri — so I thought I'd take this opportunity to address an evergreen personal question I get a lot: how did I get into doing the sort of video journalism I do on Twitter?
The answer is that it was a fortuitous accident.
I toiled for many years as a reporter in relative obscurity. I gained some notoriety in the Twin Cities, where I had a very fun gig as the digital reporter for the City Pages in Minneapolis from 2011 to 2014, but I didn't have a social media platform to speak of until I started posting video clips to Twitter in the fall of 2017. At that time I had about 5,000 Twitter followers. From then until basically the present day my Twitter following has grown exponentially, up to over 700,000 at last check. That audience is my currency as a journalist, helping me get to Vox and ultimately making it possible for me to go independent with this newsletter.
In some ways I owe my career to video threads. But live-tweeting political events with clips wasn't something I sought out to do. Like so many things in life, it just kinda happened.
In the fall of 2017 I was working for ThinkProgress. My job title was deputy editor, but when I began there in February 2016 there was a need for someone to write about the Republican presidential primary. I started writing a lot of news posts about Donald Trump and, as it turned out, never looked back.
At the time I was watching Trump's speeches and rallies and the White House news briefings and writing about many of them, but the thought of clipping and posting video highlights didn't occur to me until after we received a newsroom-wide training on a software program called SnapStream that I still use today. SnapStream, if you're not familiar, records cable television with searchable transcripts, and makes it possible to clip and post videos to social media with just a few button clicks.
I didn't think much about SnapStream at the time -- it just seemed like one of numerous trainings we had to learn about new software at our disposal. But then while chilling at home one night I just happened to catch an interview then-White House Chief of Staff John Kelly did on Fox News.