Archives for posts with tag: twitter

Twitter’s spreading … or should I say, its use among mainstream journos is spreading. In today’s NYTimes.com, Noam Cohen describes how political reporters from Slate, Time and AFP (among others) are using the site to send on-the-scene descriptions from the campaign trail.

The 140-character limit is giving rise to the return of telegraphese, Cohen notes. He also observes that tweets sometimes have unintended double entendres. As Ana Marie Cox of Time.com cautioned:

“If you only Twittered and only read Twitters that would probably be a bad thing.”

But would it? After all, so many users embed links and have the “follow” feature turned on, it’s possible get the bigger picture on any subject the Twitterverse is talking about.

Twitter, the microblogging, social IMing, blog marketing, watercoolerish communications site, has been creeping into mainstream consciousness this year.

I used it in October during the Online News Association conference to live-broadcast proceedings for people who couldn’t make it to Toronto.

Though I’m sure I wasn’t the first to do it, I felt like I was. “Twitter? What’s that? Why bother?” was the common response when I asked people to follow me.

Since then, however, people seem to have grokked Twitter’s value. You see more people tweeting conferences and more people and news outlets putting their stories and blog post pointers online.

But perhaps the real power in Twitter is in speed and community. Not only were media outlets able to broadcast breaking news updates, non-media people also sent updated, on-the-scene information. Talk about crowdsourcing:

  • Benazir Bhutto’s assassination: Several Twitter feeds broadcast word of the initial bombing, but first word of Bhutto’s injury and eventual death came from BreakingNewsOn, which claims to be “your most credible Twitter news source.”

    It appears BreakingNewsOn does a lot of wire and presser crawling, but the founder, Michael van Poppel said in an interview he’ll have a website soon and intends to form partnerships with news outlets to provide constant breaking news feeds. Established media who want the breaking news space to themselves had better have a plan in place.
  • San Diego wildfires: Though ably covered by KPBS, Nate Ritter, a web consultant based in San Diego, also blogged and tweeted real-time, getting his message out to several hundred followers (and possibly more lurkers).
  • Police and fire response: A few police and fire departments have made their feeds public, including the Franklin police in Massachusetts and the L.A. Fire Department. Maybe not so interesting, but it could be a useful source.
  • Traffic: Everyone wants to know how their commute will go. Drivers in Honolulu post updates to KokuaTraffic.com, which get fed to a Twitter feed. (“Kokua” means “help” or “assist” in Hawaiian.) SacTraffic keeps Sacramento, Calif., drivers updated on the latest traffic incidents reported by the California Highway Patrol.

    Even fliers can get information on the latest airport delays. Chicago’s O’Hare International, LAX, the New York area and Paris’ Charles De Gaulle all have feeds, though I’m not sure who’s providing the info. More airports can be found via on_The_Road, though not all of the feeds appear to be routinely updated.

As more people make Twitter an everyday part of their lives, news gatherers should think about how best to incorporate it into their strategy, both for source hunting as well as information dissemination — and make sure to grab logical usernames before someone else does.

An experiment in group fiction via Twitter launched today when 140 writers answered the call to join Cameron Reilly in writing a story called The Darkness Inside.

The idea is pretty simple: All writers follow @twittories. Reilly, as editor, lets each writer know when it’s their turn to add up to 140 characters of storyline and posts the entries to the website. (He also reserves the right not to post anything deemed illegal in his home country of Australia.)

The Twittories example could be a neat if inefficient and legal pitfall-filled way to draft a breaking news story for a topic of interest to a large community, such as the San Diego wildfires that broke out earlier this year.

In a time when the public is asking for transparency while clamoring for speed, this could be a daring approach to posting breaking news from the field online.