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Archive for the ‘Breaking news’ Category


My Digital First Media colleagues at Heritage Media faced a huge breaking news challenge last week when a tornado ripped through Dexter, Mich.

The Heritage staff’s performance illustrates the range of breaking-news techniques that journalists use in covering disasters today. As Managing Editor Michelle Rogers explained in her blog post about the coverage:

As a group of weekly publications in print, it has been an ongoing challenge to get our audience to realize we’re now a daily online. I think the tragedy of the tornado served as a reminder to readers that they don’t have to wait until Thursday to get their local news, and we were happy to oblige, providing breaking news coverage, from news stories, Storify compilations, photo galleries and videos to Tweets and Facebook posts, and SMS texts to email alerts. (more…)

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When you’re covering the story that everybody is talking about, you need to monitor social media. You want to hear what they’re saying and you want them to be talking about your stories, photos and videos.

Landslide photo from the Daily Breeze

My Digital First Media colleagues at the Daily Breeze have illustrated that with their smart use of Facebook in coverage of a landslide along the coast in San Pedro, Calif. Reporter Donna Littlejohn explains:

Ocean cliffs have fallen away before in our port community, colorfully chronicled by the daily newspaper through the decades. But when the latest slide began to slip, it played out most prominently on social media sites.

I got my first tip that something was up from a community member on Facebook. On Sept. 7 she wrote this on my wall: “Donna — someone posted on the San Pedro CA Facebook page that there’s a sink hole starting on Paseo del Mar. I don’t know near what street yet but I’ll pass on any new info.” (more…)

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Update: The Wall Street Journal sent an email news alert at 6:37 Monday with this subject: “WSJ NEWS ALERT: WSJ/NBC News Poll Finds Voters Deeply Torn.”

The text:

A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll has found an electorate that is convinced the country’s economic structures favor an affluent elite and is still deeply torn as to whether President Barack Obama or any of his leading Republican rivals can pull the nation out of decline.

In case you want to read more (and I can’t imagine why you would), a link takes you to the Journal story: Poll Finds Voters Deeply Torn.

We can disagree about whether these polls stating the obvious merit “news alerts.” But there’s no question the Post kicked the Journal’s ass on the story, whatever its value.

Picking up my original post: When I awoke this morning and checked my email, I saw a news alert from the Washington Post:

Really? A poll that reveals nothing new and just confirms what everyone knows about the country’s mood deserves a news alert? At 12:18 a.m.?

In the ensuing discussion, at least a couple people thought I was commenting on a tweet from the Post. I was commenting on the email news alert, but the Post did tweet the news at about the same time: (more…)

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The Reno air show crash was exactly the kind of story that shows why Twitter is an essential tool for journalists covering breaking news.

I was traveling and training and too busy to take more than passing notice of the story, much less study how journalists used Twitter in covering it. But Carl Lavin did that in his blog post: Lessons From Reno: Time For A Disaster Drill. I highly recommend it for editors and reporters covering breaking news, for top newsroom editors and for social media editors. I especially recommend it for curmudgeons denying the value of Twitter.

My favorite detail: That Andy Carvin found eyewitnesses to the crash by searching for tweets near Reno using OMG and various expletives. You can do this kind of location-based search easily with Twitter’s advanced search tool.

By the way, Carl’s daily email newsletter and blog posts give timely tips on news coverage. If you’re not already getting the newsletter or reading the blog, I recommend checking it out.

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Like many institutional Twitter accounts, Journal Register Co. newsroom accounts need to be more engaging and conversational.

We tweet a lot of links to our content. But we’re not very personable. In the coming months, I will be working with JRC colleagues to strengthen engagement on newsroom Twitter accounts. I’ll start by sharing some best practices here. I’ll blog later about using Facebook. I’ve already shared some advice for individual journalists using Twitter. Today I focus on branded newsroom accounts (whether that’s the lead newsroom account or a niche account focusing on a topic such as sports or a beat).

The specific practices start with some guiding principles in use of social media: Use good sense. Practice good journalism. Be creative, aggressive, accurate and ethical. (more…)

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@statesman has shown again today how to use Twitter to cover breaking news.

In February, I noted the excellent job @statesman did in covering the terrorist attack on the IRS office in Austin. I was tied up in a meeting out of the office this morning, but I heard at a break about this morning’s situation with a gunman at the University of Texas library. (more…)

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Readers of this blog know that Twitter is one of the best tools for covering breaking news.

But if you listen to and read the Twitter haters, you also hear that Twitter is a place where false rumors spread rapidly. My reply to that is that Twitter is a form of communication, and rumors spread on all forms of communication. A great example of that is the false report of Gordon Lightfoot’s death. Yes, it spread on Twitter. But it started by word of mouth, where rumors have been circulating since humans first mastered speech. And its big spread came when it was reported (without verification) by a professional news outlet. So how did that become Twitter’s fault?

My experience with the Gordon Lightfoot rumor was that I first saw a tweet shooting down the rumor, then saw one or two tweets spreading the rumor and dozens saying it wasn’t true. I noted at the time (on Twitter, of course) that Twitter was actually a great rumor-correcting platform.

Well, researchers from Yahoo! have confirmed both Twitter’s usefulness in spreading news and its effectiveness in correcting rumors. (more…)

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