Thursday, December 18, 2008

Breaking News on the Web: Mats Sundin Timeline

As most know, I'm a huge hockey fan. Here's how news of the biggest hockey story of the year spread on the Web.

3:01 Pacific Time: NHL Director of Corporate Communications Michael DiLorenzo posts on Twitter: @umassdilo "sundin to canucks"

3:01 Pacific Time: Radio personality Buzz Bishop posts on Twitter: @buzzbishop "just got the press release. it's official SUNDIN IS A CANUCK"

3:06 Pacific Time: TSN posted a story saying Mats Sundin is a Vancouver Canuck

3:06 Pacific Time: Alanah McGinley of Kukla's Korner posts the news in the blog Canucks & Beyond

3:11 Pacific Time: Popular hockey site HockeyBuzz.com posts an update stating Sundin is a Canuck

3:12 Pacific Time: Vancouver online news site Straight.com reports the news

3:14 Pacific Time: Sportsnet.ca posts the story on its site

3:23 Pacific Time: ESPN.com posts the story on its site

The first official media outlet to break the news seems to be 95Crave in Vancouver. Buzz Bishop told me on Twitter that he announced the news on the station "seconds after presser was dropped, before twitter."

It would appear that the press release was officially sent out by the club at 3:00 Pacific Time (that is the time stamp for the story at Canucks.com as well). Just one minute later by Twitter, not bad. Certainly beat the big boys on the Web.

This is yet more evidence that Twitter is becoming a viable way to break news to a niche audience.

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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

How journalists should use Twitter

This convenient list was posted at The Earley Edition, a blog by Australian journalist Dave Earley.

"Journalists should use Twitter:

* to find contacts
* to maintain and communicate with contacts and their audience
* to monitor keywords relevant to their round (their beat, for my American friends)
* to monitor updates around a specific geographic location."

Earley works for the Courier Mail, a large daily doing some cutting edge work online. I first ran across him and his Twitter feed during the recent severe thunderstorms in Brisbane, Australia, and the Courier Mail's use of Twitter at the time.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Twitter truly opens up new doors

I've been getting more and more intrigued with Twitter lately and the role it may play in the future of news.

Twitter is a largely public tool. And applications like TweetDeck document the most popular words being said at any given time. For example, in the last few minutes, the most popular words have been "Berlin" and "thunder." I looked through the "tweets" with these words and learned a fire had broken out at the airport in Berlin and there was a major thunderstorm going on in Brisbane, Australia - I even saw photos of the storm!

Here's some of the tweets on the Australia storm too:

KatJohnston : #bnestorm now hailing in newmarket.. hope it doesn't hurt the car.
Posted at 02:42

JonoH : 420 Queen ST is getting smashed!!! people can not walk.. Wind too strong!! #bnestorm
Posted at 02:42

WauloK : #bnestorm at Corinda sitting at the open front door watching the storm. Wild!
Posted at 02:39

JonoH : Currently 785 Strikes a minute for the lightning in SE QLD! incredible! #bnestorm
Posted at 02:38

So, in essence, it can be used as a news service. It chronicles news as it happens. It also documents buzzwords, the most popular talk at any given time.

So what role does it play in the future of newsgathering and news in general? I've been thinking about it...there has to be one.

In one sense, it's niche at its best because you can target specific audience and communicate with specific people who have the same interests as you. Newspaper personalities like ColonelTribune and WeatherBird utilize Twitter really well, getting their stories out while also interacting with their readers.

Editors can also toss words around on Twitter, do some interacting, and see what's hot and what's not. What's popular and what's lost into cyberspace. They can also do this by monitoring all the most recent tweets. And base stories on that. Really.

I think Twitter will continue to grow and be a big part of the future of the Web, and it'll be interesting to see what else comes of it. Other than that, who knows what form it'll take in the next few years. To be continued...

Update: I found this wonderful slideshow on the basics of Twitter and how it can be used for PR, journalism, live reporting, and more.

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

How Twitter can deliver news

You don't need to be a journalist to be a part of the news gathering and news dissemination process on Twitter.

In the past 30 minutes alone, the Web site Hashtags.org has recorded dozens of Twitter posts with "#lafire" on them. Basically, Hashtags.org chronicles the most popular topics being discussed on Twitter by analyzing these user-provided tags. #lafire took off in popularity as a tag within the last 24 hours. It of course refers to fires around Los Angeles.

In the last few minutes, here's what members of the LA community have been bouncing back and forth on Twitter:

"Want to help if you aren't close? Donate to Red Cross who assists fire victims with shelter, food, necessities. http://tiny.cc/cN2ho"
"RT: rachellechong: #LAFIRE Animals may be taken to Pierce College or Hansen Dam during fire emergency"
"Watching the fires break out all around L.A.. Mess. Major. Chaos. Sky is red. #LAFIRE if you're into disaster theater."
"on 91 freeway, people turning around and exiting on onramp to get off fwy. #lafire anaheim hills"
"Three major fires surround LA at this time #lafire Anaheim Hills, Sylmar, Yorba Linda"

They're almost like mini stories. And more are popping up every second. Both by people trying to get information out, public officials for instance, and everyday citizens just posting their thoughts, opinions, and observations.

Thus, Twitter becomes a powerful tool in times of crisis or major news. Users quickly catch on to the popular Hashtag being used, and they put it in their tweets to be part of the conversation.

While there is no gate-keeping and there's obvious issues with the potential for rumors or misinformation being distributed, it's still a powerful device if used correctly, and the journalism industry as a whole could learn a lot from monitoring the takeoff of one of these popular hashtags, such as the one that's growing in popularity as I write this: #lafire. Talk about a whole new meaning to "breaking news"...something like this keeps breaking and updating every few minutes - in some cases, like when the VP Debate between Palin and Biden took place, every few seconds.

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Friday, November 7, 2008

CSM continues to lead

Christian Science Monitor continues to take the lead in the future of journalism, particularly on the Web. It held a live webcast this evening, appropriately entitled, "The Future of Journalism."

I wasn't able to attend the webcast, I was at class, but thanks to Twitter, I was able to learn some things that were said.

Particularly interesting "tweets" from social media expert Doug Haslam, who was broadcasting bits and pieces from the CSM webcast:

Mark Jurkowitz: new media models rushing to fill the void left by shrinking print reporting staff
Can anyone but NYT& WaPo afford to break the big stories? Jurkowitz
Ellen Hume of MIT: New journalism means the old media aren't the only ones w/ reporting power.
Hume: if journalist is popular there's something wrong.
Douglas K. Smith: median age of ABC News is 61. Enterprise model still works but shrinking.
Jurkowitz: broadcast tv still has a significant role. it's changing but still big
Q: will newspapers go away? Jurkowitz: print will change become more niche. remeber gulf war 1 as end of paper 1st
Ellen Hume is big on participatory journalism.
Ellen Hume: face to face is irreplaceable. use tech but continue to be a journalist
Jurkowitz: dangers of people sticking with news that fits their world view

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