Lon Seidman shows why journalists and news organizations need to take Twitter seriously.
A few years ago, Seidman might have called up a newspaper or TV station to express his anger and a reporter would have gotten a great interview with a businessman who’s frustrated with the local power company’s customer service following a disaster. But now Seidman just takes to Twitter and sounds off to his followers (188 when I checked this morning).
And Matt DeRienzo got a great story because he was paying attention.
If you’re one of the too-many journalists who are still Twitter holdouts or one of the too-many journalists or news organizations who see Twitter mostly as a one-way stream of your headlines and links, you need to read Matt’s Storify account of Seidman’s late-night Twitter rant (Matt, you gotta get some sleep, man).
And if you haven’t used Storify yet, you need to check out what a slick tool it is for telling stories that involve social media. Matt, group editor for the Journal Register Co. newsrooms in Connecticut, was able to pull Seidman’s tweets into a quick story, woven together deftly with his own writing, context and organization.
I won’t go into detail here, but a quick summary: Seidman is a Connecticut businessman and politician who’s frustrated not just with the slow pace of Connecticut Light & Power’s restoration of electricity after Hurricane Irene, but at the lack of information from the company about where power is going to be restored when.
This is a typical story that news organizations deal with after a disaster: After the initial shock and resolve and outpouring of generosity, anger starts bubbling up. We all saw stories like that in the aftermath of Katrina. My colleagues at the Gazette covered stories like that after the 2008 flood in Cedar Rapids. And Connecticut media are already covering anger stories.
But Seidman’s anger is a great story by itself, and he didn’t need the media to tell it. He had posted a few irritated tweets earlier, but his anger boiled over at about 11 p.m. last night in a certainly-therapeutic string of more than 30 tweets that not only vented his frustrations but lay out a series of steps for CL&P to take to provide better information and service for its customers.
Matt recognizes that Twitter is not just a way to boost traffic for your website but an important tool for listening to your community. He listened last night and by midnight he had finished a great story.