Archive for February, 2012

Facebook made Timeline available today for branded pages. My colleagues Mandy Jenkins and Ivan Lajara collaborated on this explainer for how to add Timeline. I guess I need to stop planning to get to Timeline on my page next week.

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You can’t know how successful you are — or even if you’re succeeding — unless you find a way to measure performance.

I’ll be leading a workshop today on metrics for Digital First journalists in Connecticut. It’s scheduled for the Middletown Press, but if the weather turns nasty, I might stay in New Haven. Either way, you can follow the workshop on a livestream and live chat. The workshop starts at 4 p.m. (but if I’m traveling, weather could delay that slightly).

I’ll start with a process journalists should use to measure their digital efforts, then I’ll discuss some possible ways and tools to carry out that process: (more…)


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I will be leading a workshop on working as a Digital First journalist starting at noon today for colleagues in Connecticut. You are welcome to join on the livestream and ask questions on the live chat.

We’ll address the concerns of the journalists in the conference room and on the live chat. Many of the answers are found in my various blog posts on Digital First journalism:

I will not be using slides on this beat, but if they are helpful to you, here are slides I have used in previous workshops on this topic:

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A beat blog gives a newsroom a vehicle for providing in-depth coverage that the general-interest approach of a newspaper generally doesn’t allow.

I have decades of memories of arguments with editors (when I was a reporter) and with reporters (when I was an editor) about the reporters’ desire to tell stories in greater depth than the interest level of this mythical “typical” newspaper reader. A newspaper has finite space, and to tell the stories that serve this general-interest need of the masses, its reporters gather far more information that has appeal only in niches of people with keen interest in a particular topic.

Beat blogging is a way to serve that deeper level of interest, to use all the information a reporter gathers. It makes a newsroom’s content more valuable to the community, by serving the broad but shallow general interest and the narrow but deep niche interests.

I’ll be leading a workshop today for Digital First journalists in Connecticut on beat blogging. You can watch the livestream and ask questions on a live chat, starting at 3 p.m. Eastern time. You also can read about how the beat blog fits into the full work of a reporter in my earlier posts that addressed the work of reporters covering courts, sports, statehouses and other beats. Other helpful resources would be the BeatBlogging website (no longer active, but loaded with helpful advice and links), my Introduction to Reporting course for News University and my general blogging advice. I’m sure others have produced many other helpful resources. Please share some of those links in the comments.

I will try to compile a list of good current beat blogs, and I welcome your contributions to that list. Who are good reporters who blog regularly about their beats (don’t hesitate to suggest your own beat or someone on your staff)? But for now, I want to offer some basic advice for beat blogging. (more…)

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I will be leading workshops this week for Digital First journalists in Connecticut. You are welcome to watch them by livestream.

The schedule and topics (all times are Eastern time, all sessions lasting roughly 90 minutes):

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This is a blog post I wrote March 5, 2008, on my Training Tracks blog at the American Press Institute. The original is no longer online, but I’m resurrecting this because Elaine Clisham referred to it on Twitter yesterday, prompting my post this morning about why linking is good journalism. I have not checked the links to see if they are still good. Given the topic, I think I should leave them in this piece either way.

Some questions about journalism innovation stump me. This one didn’t.

A person who’s trying to help journalists move into the digital world was trying to persuade some newspaper editors and writers to “build credibility with their users by having the courage to send users elsewhere for info when they can’t meet the need.” The editors were appalled and asked for “hard data to take home to convince their legacy managers this is a good idea.”

You want hard data? Here’s some hard data: Google.

This need by too many journalists and newspaper executives to control how our audience spends their time is laughable except that it’s so maddening. Our users control how they spend their time. They always did and they always will. We need to give them value and links have value. (more…)

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I was traveling yesterday, so I came in late to a discussion about outbound links. A tweet from Elaine Clisham brought the discussion to my attention:

Actually, it was about four years ago, I think. But thanks for remembering, Elaine. Alas, that blog post for the American Press Institute, where Elaine and I were colleagues, is no longer available online. I will try to find it somewhere and resurrect it for archival purposes. (Update: I found and reposted my 2008 post: Google doesn’t fear outbound links; neither should you.) I don’t have time to pull in all the tweets of a really long Twitter discussion, but Mathew Ingram curated some of them in a blog post asking, “Is linking polite, or is it a core value of journalism?“, prompted by MG Siegler’s rant about the Wall Street Journal’s refusal to link when he beat them on a story for TechCrunch.

If you’re interested in the discussion that followed that post, check yesterday’s tweets by Mathew, Charles Arthur and Caitlin Fitzsimmons and this 2010 post by Jonathan Stray. Update: A comment below points out this piece by Felix Salmon that covers linking and attribution at length. I don’t agree with it all, but it’s well argued and reasonable.

This tweet from Fitzsimmons seems representative of the linking-is-just-a-courtesy viewpoint:

My contribution will be these four reasons why linking is good journalism (which may somewhat echo Jonathan’s and Mathew’s posts, because they are both right): (more…)

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I will be leading a workshop today for Digital First journalists in Connecticut on engaging the community. I will cover many of the points in this 2011 blog post. Here are the slides I will use (though it’s going to be a free-flowing discussion, so I may not get to them all and may use some out of order):


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I will be leading a workshop today for Digital First Connecticut editors on leading a Digital First newsroom. We will discuss many of the points I made in the Dec. 22 blog post linked above. Here are my slides for the workshop, which will largely be an open discussion addressing the challenges these editors are facing.

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Thanks to Jeff Edelstein of the Trentonian for showing a good way for journalists to use Klout.

I have wavered in my views on the value of Klout.

I think you can overdo metrics, especially when you are measuring the wrong things. But I do think we should try to measure the results of our efforts. And Klout tries to measure influence in social media. (more…)

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  1. ShareFor some reason, the updated version isn’t publishing to the blog. I suggest reading this on Storify.My midnight train ride home Thursday night (actually, sometime after midnight Friday) came to a halt when Train 177 hit a person on the tracks. So I live-tweeted.

  2. Amtrak Train 177 stopped outside Aberdeen MD because of a fatality on board. Emergency crews en route.
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 00:36:47
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    @stevebuttry most likely a sudden death like a heart attack
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 00:39:08
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    Wow bummer! RT @stevebuttry Amtrak Train 177 stopped outside Aberdeen MD because of a fatality on board. Emergency crews en route.
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 00:40:24
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    All I know about “fatality” on Amtrak is what they announced (that was the word they used). All quiet on my car.
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 00:38:02
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    I can’t recall exact wording of announcement on Amtrak, but we’re not at a station. I wonder if they hit someone (didn’t feel it if so).
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 00:38:59
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    But why not get to station to allow easier access for emergency crews? RT @paulkuehnel most likely a sudden death like a heart attack
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 00:41:05
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    @stevebuttry perhaps they had intended to intercept with a medic unit along the way?
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 00:42:18
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    Lots of flashing red lights outside now w/ emergency crews here. At least 4-5 vehicles. I can’t see what’s going on.
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 00:43:00
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    Emergency vehicles are large & plentiful, maybe 4-5. I doubt this is a natural-causes death aboard the train.
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 00:44:47
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    Searchers w/ flashlights walking along the train outside. #amtrakfatal
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 00:48:52
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    If we were in an area a #DigitalFirst newsroom covers, I’d try to get out to play reporter, but I’ll just tweet from my seat. #amtrakfatal
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 00:51:30
  13. Share
    “@TheChalkOutline: @stevebuttry on Amtrak 177 listening to EMS radio, fatality was person hit by train. No trains thru here until 3 am.
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 00:52:13
  14. With the dark and the reflection, this is an awful photo, but red lights are red lights.
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    Emergency vehicles responding to #Amtrakfatal near Aberdeen MD. http://twitpic.com/8nwro1
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 00:53:54
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    .@stevebuttry is providing great minute-by-minute tweets about a fatal amtrak incident in Md. I hope a news org. picks up the story soon.
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 00:52:14
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    @stevebuttry There was an Amtrak death yesterday and questions about their response. Hope they learned quick. washingtonpost.com/lifesty…
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 00:53:03
  18. Share
    Emergency vehicles responding to #Amtrakfatal near Aberdeen MD. rightnow.io/breaking-news/… #Aberdeen via @stevebuttry
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 00:53:56
  19. Share
    Emergency vehicles responding to #Amtrakfatal near Aberdeen MD. rightnow.io/breaking-news/… #Aberdeen via @stevebuttry
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 00:53:56
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    @stevebuttry Do a good job and we can do a blog on your work. #amtrakfatal
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 00:55:45
  21. Larry’s referring to my blog post about his live-tweeting of a breaking story. Larry’s a better cops reporter than I am. He’d have been off this train (he probably also has a media credential).
  22. Share
    @stevebuttry police scanner free app?
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 00:58:05
  23. Share
    @ivanlajara @stevebuttry Banjo!
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 00:58:48
  24. I blogged about Andy’s use of Banjo on a breaking story. Alas, it did me no good tonight.
  25. Share
    @AndyStettler @ivanlajara Tried it. No luck.
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 01:09:53
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    Mt @kspaetz @stevebuttry providing minute-by-minute tweets about a fatal amtrak incident in Md. I hope a news org. picks up the story soon
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 00:58:57
  27. Share
    Thanks for update RT @Percivall “@TheChalkOutline: @stevebuttry on Amtrak 177 listening to EMS radio, fatality was person hit by train.
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 00:59:01
  28. Share
    Follow @SteveButtry’s live report from an Amtrak train at scene where person killed by train.
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 01:00:46
  29. Share
    @stevebuttry Your in the middle of a breaking news story, right?
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 01:01:22
  30. Hell, yes.
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    @stevebuttry I can visualize the train, the lights. Sounds like a scene from a movie.
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 01:01:28
  32. Well, not exactly “The Fugitive,” but more breaking news than I’ve covered in a while.
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    @stevebuttry Here’s the police, fire, EMS scanner for County you’re in: radioreference.com/apps/au… Audio only but it’s live. Bed for me. Good luck
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 01:02:07
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    No emergency lights now, but train isn’t moving. #amtrakfatal
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 01:07:07
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    @SethLavin Thanks, but I’m not getting any audio. It appears to be playing, though.
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 01:09:13
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    Conductor says it was a trespasser, not a passenger. No vehicle crossing nearby. Waiting for cops to clear the train to leave. #amtrakfatal
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 01:11:13
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    Conductor says it may be an hour or so before we can move. They’re offering complimentary coffee in cafe car. #amtrakfatal
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 01:11:49
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    Yep. RT @TheChalkOutline Your in the middle of a breaking news story, right?
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 01:12:11
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    His luck was worse than mine (unless it was suicide). RT @LarryAltman Sun says man hit by train. You have such bad luck travelling.
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 01:12:55
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    @stevebuttry This is far from the first fatality at that location: archives.exploreharford.co…
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 01:03:44
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    Fri, Feb 24 2012 01:02:32
  42. Share
    totally wrong link, sorry. Put bad one in. @stevebuttry
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 01:05:31
  43. Share
    @ivanlajara Only off by 2 years.
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 01:06:47
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    RT @kspaetz .@stevebuttry providing great minute-by-minute tweets about fatal amtrak incident in #Md. Hope news org. picks up the story soon
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 01:05:33
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    @TheChalkOutline @stevebuttry ems feed relay.radioreference.com:8…
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 01:12:06
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    I may have wrong location of train. Twitter location search doesn’t even show my tweets. #amtrakfatal
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 01:14:10
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    @stevebuttry I actually mistakenly read an old story, but it seems to have happened again !
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 01:15:37
  48. Share
    @LarryAltman @ivanlajara read the same story.
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 01:16:44
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    @SethLavin Thanks! (My computer audio was muted at first. Duh.)
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 01:17:23
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    @stevebuttry No– thank you! Gives me a chance to imagine life had I not rebelled and become something other than a journalist (@fromcarl)
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 02:01:29
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    @stevebuttry And God forbid Amtrak have any kind of publicly available real-time geolocation for its trains.
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 01:20:05
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    @stevebuttry something came on Hardford scanner police free app channel about Amtrak but went dark
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 01:20:09
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    This is the first place Foursquare shows near the #amtrakfatal. (@ Adams Chevrolet) 4sq.com/xN9pus
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 01:23:17
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    @stevebuttry Interesting. Havre de Grace is north of Aberdeen, not far from Delaware line. Head of the Chesapeake Bay.
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 01:30:09
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    Of course not. RT @eclisham And God forbid Amtrak have any kind of publicly available real-time geolocation for its trains.
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 01:23:26
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    @stevebuttry BTW Wed, @TheChalkOutline @douglasmorino & I collaborated via Twitter on a Socal murder that ended with suspect suicide in Utah
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 01:23:23
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    I was dozing when the train hit the trespasser. I didn’t notice the stop being sudden. #amtrakfatal
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 01:27:05
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    Police scanner says Amtrak police have a one-minute ETA. #amtrakfatal
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 01:31:25
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    @stevebuttry #DigitalFirst has a physical area of coverage? Perhaps the hashtag needs adjustment.
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 01:31:18
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    Lots of communities, none in MD. RT @josephjames #DigitalFirst has a physical area of coverage? Perhaps the hashtag needs adjustment.
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 01:32:09
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    @stevebuttry Good work sir. I’m more of a fan of #IfYoureNotDigitalFirstYoureLast but that’s lengthy. And © Ricky Bobby.
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 01:43:26
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    @josephjames However, @Trentonian has reported my tweets.
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 01:32:47
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    I see no emergency-vehicle lights now, but scanner says something about “we have Amtrak police.” #amtrakfatal
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 01:40:49
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    @stevebuttry Amtrak police? What are those? Federal? Private?
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 01:40:22
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    First I’ve heard of them, too. police.amtrak.com/ #amtrakfatal RT @Mia_Ria Amtrak police? What are those? Federal? Private?
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 01:41:53
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    @stevebuttry appears they’re trained at the federal academy and have national power but not necessarily a federal agency
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 01:47:32
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    @stevebuttry I think most rail lines have a police force. I’ve seen BNSF police cars in the Quad Cities.
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 01:57:26
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    @ER_DavidLittle Interesting on-the-scene tweeting of #amtrakfatal in Maryland by DFM’s @stevebuttry. He’s on the train. It’s a small world.
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 01:45:01
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    @stevebuttry As much as it sucks that you’re stuck there gotta give them props for keeping you informed.
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 01:49:10
  70. I agree on that. Took a while for the first announcement, but they have been pretty informative about this.
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    @stevebuttry just heard something about finding a scalp and a torso on scanner, unrelated most likely. But that’s my cue to leave
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 01:53:51
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    Am hearing lots of scanner talk now about cleaning stuff off tracks. Didn’t hear body-parts references @ivanlajara did, though. #amtrakfatal
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 01:56:22
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    Scanner traffic now is about access to move some cars, including an Amtrak car. There’s a creek in the way. I’m confused. #amtrakfatal
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 02:00:16
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    Announcement on train: “We had a fatality on the tracks. We struck a trespasser.” Estimated time of release about one hour. #amtrakfatal
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 02:02:14
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    I’m seeing some lights outside again, not red flashers, but some vehicles apparently belonging to investigators. #amtrakfatal
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 02:08:53
  76. Share
    I’m glad I popped the extra $40 for biz class. I’m up front with a better view of activity outside the train. #amtrakfatal
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 02:09:36
  77. Share
    Social news guy @stevebuttry is live-tweeting after his Amtrak train hit someone on the tracks in Maryland.
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 02:11:49
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    @corybe @stevebuttry This happens all the time in the SF Bay Area. I’m told it usually doesn’t make the news. Rare on the east coast?
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 02:12:47
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    @ProducerMatthew @stevebuttry Happens all the time in the Northwest, too. But love Steve’s late-night tweets.
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 02:14:50
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    @ProducerMatthew @corybe It’s 2;26 a.m. & the train isn’t moving. So I tweet. I do this over flight delays when no one dies. #amtrakfatal
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 02:16:40
  81. Share
    @stevebuttry @corybe True for SF too. How sad is it that, given its frequency, it only warrants a brief? 😦
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 02:17:09
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    Scanner traffic mentioned a news crew. Couldn’t tell if ABC or NBC (maybe neither). Will check to see if anyone’s covering. #amtrakfatal
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 02:20:22
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    It’s a big deal for me & the person they hit, but Amtrak had 97 fatalities last year thru November: safetydata.fra.dot.gov/Off…
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 02:21:02
  84. Share
    Correction: Amtrak had 97 fatal accidents/incidents last year thru Nov., 107 total fatalities. #amtrakfatal
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 02:22:18
  85. Share
    @stevebuttry It’s often a big deal for onboard staff, especially the engineer operating the train who had to witness the fatality.
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 02:22:44
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    @QuesoGuapo I can’t imagine how traumatic it would be to be the engineer, see the person on the tracks & be unable to stop. #amtrakfatal
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 02:27:44
  87. Share
    @stevebuttry Neither can I. But it’s something an engineer may witness 3x over career (via Progressive Railroading). j.mp/zu8zXM
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 02:33:58
  88. Share
    @QuesoGuapo I used to know an engineer who had experienced it a time or two. #amtrakfatal
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 02:36:06
  89. Share
    @stevebuttry Ultimately, it’s a unfortunate situation for all. Thank you for your updates, especially at this late hour.
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 02:39:31
  90. Share
    @QuesoGuapo Hey, what else am I gonna do? When I got on the train, I was feeling bad about Twitter silence the last couple days.
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 02:48:33
  91. Share
    Scanning first-hand account/curation from @stevebuttry of an Amtrak fatality in last couple of hours. A good example for reporters to follow
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 02:35:35
  92. Share
    They’re outside with flashlights now again. #amtrakfatal
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 02:37:37
  93. Share

    World’s worst twitpic, flashlights outside train. #amtrakfatal http://twitpic.com/8nxlxm
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 02:39:39
  94. Share
    Train is moving! We are heading home again at last. Light rain. #amtrakfatal
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 02:53:26
  95. Share
    Now I’m thinking of the family that learned tonight that their loved one died on the tracks. My ride home wasn’t so bad. #amtrakfatal
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 02:55:12
  96. Share
    @stevebuttry Glad you and others are ok, what a horrible train accident made even worse happening late into the night.
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 02:50:32
  97. As I was curating this (and continuing the live-tweeting, my colleague Ivan Lajara beat me to publishing by Storify. In my defense, I was live-tweeting as well as curating.
  98. Ivan noted that we could collaborate (he understands Storify and lots of tools better than I do). But I decided to publish dueling accounts.
  99. Share
    Damn! Was about to publish mine! RT @ivanlajara @Stevebuttry live-tweets an #Amtrakfatal accident sfy.co/bpj (done in ipad)
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 02:31:16
  100. Share
    @stevebuttry I just found this out yesterday: I just gave you editing access to my account (I can revoke after you are done)
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 02:35:34
  101. Share
    @ivanlajara Probably easier to just publish mine (shortly, adding links now). I’ll link to yours, curating your curation.
    Fri, Feb 24 2012 02:37:12

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