Tip Sheets

Finding sources on Twitter with a short deadline

In a perfect world, when you’re assigned an article that requires you to find patients, family members or other “real people,” you’ve followed Liz Szabo’s advice by setting yourself up on social media to already know where to find patients and to be in the loop of ongoing conversations. But we don’t live in a perfect world, and even if we did, sometimes you get an assignment with a short deadline on a topic you don’t cover much, if at all. Now you need the expedited route to finding patients STAT.

The USC Annenberg’s Center for Health Journalism has a new tip sheet, “How to use Twitter to find a treasure trove of real patient voices,” that offers advice on finding people on Twitter even if you haven’t taken the time to do advance research. The tip sheet also helpfully discusses how to reach out to people out of the blue without frightening them, what kind of responses you might receive, and considerations such as confirming their identity and learning their possible conflicts of interest.