Tweeting the News

Sure it’s fun to rip on the TU for not delivering your paper on time (it wasn’t there today when I left the house at 7am) but the truth is that they’re generally first with things, if not delivering the dead tree version.

Local TV once crowed that they had the advantage of immediacy on breaking news. They’d say, “Ha! you’ll have have to wait until morning to read about the hot stories that we can cover at six and eleven.” True, they had an advantage with urgent, breaking news.

Then along came the internet.

The Web really showed us who runs the news in this town. And the truth is the newspaper beats the pants off everyone. They break news on the Web before anyone else, almost every single time with rare exceptions.

Case study: On Saturday there was some breaking news regarding a Continental ExpressJet flight landing with passengers injured by severe turbulance. Not the biggest story, but interesting.

I read about it first on Twitter. Since I was curious about who’s using Twitter to break stories, I did a little check on who had it when:

Times Union 4:07pm
WTEN 4:23
WRGB 4:44
Fox 23 4:49
YNN 5:36pm
WNYT 9:57pm

9:57pm? You have to be kidding.

Is a tweet covering the story? Not really, but it’s a good indication that you’re on top of what’s going on. If you ask people to follow you on Twitter for news you’d better bring your A-game — or wind up the loser.

By the way, the bird outside my window woke up at 3:30 this morning. Now that’s tweeting.

7 thoughts on “Tweeting the News

  1. The local sports guy on Ch. 6 never mentioned the
    perfect game in baseball during the 6:30pm news
    Sunday almost a full hour after the game ended. Instead
    we heard about R.P.I. lacrosse and the Mets game .
    Nice work.

  2. Yeah, tell me about it. I RT’ed a Tweet from WNYT about a story that, embarrassingly, had actually broken the night before. Egg on my face! I felt like I was a lesser person because of it. I’m still trying to pick up the pieces of my shattered ego and re-inflate my sense of self-esteem.

    But even ten, twenty minutes or a full half-hour late is too much. Online news is like a sprint race: fractions of a second are the difference between first place and last place.

    What it comes down to is investing the resources in people to run the account and keep it up to date 24/7. Which is a hard sell, since what most managers here is “we want to take this person we’re paying and devote all of their resources during a significant stretch of time to f***ing around on Twitter.”

  3. Kevin: What can work is making the Twitter feed everyone’s responsibility, not that of one or two people. That means the reporters, photographers, and producers.

    People may say that Twitter is insignificant, but it speaks volumes about your approach to covering the news.

  4. You might want to investigate how much the paper delivery person gets to bring your dead tree version to you at 0 dark hundred. Minimum wage is not part of the calculation.


  5. The only thing I can say here is to watch the source that the news comes from. It is very easy to have false info spread quickly via Twitter. Otherwise, I get my breaking news from Twitter as well.

    My biggest beefs are a) CNN is always the last to report the news. Sometimes it is many hours after everyone else reports it and b) I think some of the news companies have really bad judgment of what breaking news is. CNN is also a great example of this. Sandra Bullock’s cheating husband isn’t breaking news. A tornado that kills people in Oklahoma is.

  6. Skip: there’s no question that it’d a tough, low-paying job. I have a lot of respect for anyone that gets up in the morning and does that kind of work.

    I think the paper lost the person who normally does my neighborhood, and it has to be hard to fill those jobs.

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