This really should be the last example of why journalists and media-type people need to at least know how to get the best out of Twitter

This is cool. It's a picture taken by Marcus Warren from The Telegraph of the paper's newsroom. That thingy on the left-hand screen of Twitterfall, an application that lets you track topics via a cascade in real time. This makes it invaluable for tracking breaking news stories via Twitter. For a bit more on Twitterfall, and a quick guide to using this excellent application, Paul Bradshaw has more.

Now, regardless of whether you think Twitter is the second coming or view it as a place for trendy media types to hang out, the fact that the Telegraph has a Twitter app on a big screen in their newsroom suggests that they view it as a part of the newsgathering process (as it has been for a while now).

It's not just journalists who can make use of this. PR can use it to react in real time to those occasional crises that require an immediate bit of reputation management. It's also useful for seeing how a story you've put out there develops.

Twitter may be the flavour of the month, but when you strip back the hype it is, quite simply, another communication tool - and a very basic one at that. The really exciting stuff comes with third-party apps like Twitterfall and the countless other tools that are being developed.

This small mircoblogging site is now part of the media process, be it news or PR. Get used to it.

EDIT: You'll note in the title that I've said need to know how to get the best out of Twitter. Not necessarily get on Twitter. There's enough stuff out there that you can quite effectively get a lot out of Twitter without actually being a member. However, I'd still maintain that if you want to get the best out of the site - especially when it comes to engaging online - it's helpful to give it a go and sign up. You may not get it or, after an initial flurry, decide not to post very often. But at least you have a presence on there if it's needed.