Sky News' appointment of a 'Twitter correspondent' earlier this year sparked a mixed reaction from the industry.

Some commentators described the role, which involves sourcing and tracking news stories via Twitter, as missing the point of Twitter as a newsgathering tool for all journalists; while others saw it as Twitter moving into the mainstream.

The move underlined Sky's commitment to experiment with Twitter as a means of newsgathering, reporting and interacting with viewers. Last week the broadcaster launched the next stage of its experimentation with the creation of @skynewsbreak - a Twitter channel delivering breaking news, before it's posted to the Sky News website.

While independent news service Breaking News On recently sold its Twitter account to mainstream player MSNBC, Sky News' launch is starting with the big brand news organisation. Journalism.co.uk asked Jon Gripton, senior news editor at Sky News Online, for more details:

[J.co.uk] What encouraged Sky to launch this separate channel now?
To further enhance Sky News' reputation as being first for breaking news - the new @skynewsbreak is not an automated feed. Our breaking news gets delivered straight to Twitter and not via the Sky News website, making the service much faster. 

We are regularly fastest on TV, fastest online, fastest on iPhone, and fastest to our network of commercial radio stations - now we aim to be fastest on Twitter with the stories that matter. Tweets are written by Skynews.com journalists: we are deciding which stories merit being 'broken' to our audience; and we add a personal touch - we will also use the @skynewsbreak to flash news, for example, about new video, great new pictures, a powerful new blog - on TV and online - which we want our viewers and readers to be aware of.
 
How will it work with your other twitter accounts and the Sky News website?
@skynewsbreak will complement @skynews, which is fed by an RSS feed from the website and is, if you like, a log of all the stories that are published on Skynews.com.

The new @skynewsbreak service is already getting results and winning plaudits - we were the first news organisation on the planet to break the news of the conviction of Amanda Knox on Twitter, for example.

In addition all Sky News correspondents, reporters, together with many presenters, producers, on-the-road crews, camera teams and engineers, are now also using Twitter to talk to their followers about stories - and newsgather from it to keep across stories they are interested in

So for example you can follow our foreign affairs editor Tim Marshall (@ITwitius), field producer Neal Mann (@fieldproducer), west of England correspondent Katie Stallard (@katiestallard) or the whole Sky News team (http://twitter.com/JonGrip/skynews).
 
Do you plan to use it to interact with followers too?
I firmly believe that Twitter is about people talking - so the new @skynewsbreak is not simply a 'broadcast' channel. We will talk to our followers, share with them news, info, gossip and tell them what we're up to, what's going on at the website and on the TV - and of course responding to @ messages too. We want people to tell us their news.

Any changes to the @skynews account?
We've tweaked the main @skynews Twitter service so it's faster - taking the latest stories published at Skynews.com every few minutes and adding a bit.ly url, which has been very well received by our 40,000 followers. People are very quick to pick up on our enhancements and give us feedback.

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