Friday, March 8, 2013

Real-Time News Tweets

Twitter can be used in one of two ways by the news media…

1)  It can be used as the hook to get you to go somewhere else to read the story.
2)  It can be used to tell you the story as it unfolds in real-time.

Nearly every outlet in North America does the first of these two.  They put out a tweet that tells you a snippet, like a headline, and then gives you a link to go and read more on their website.  When you get there, because the story hasn't fully unfolded yet, you are greeted with a page that tells you more information is coming soon, but doesn't actually give you any more information than you had from the hook tweet that brought you there in the first place.

Last night (my local time), a gunman was running around in a shopping mall in Brisbane, Australia.  I happened to be catching up on Twitter and was watching the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (@abcnews), reporting from on the scene using twitter.  The immediacy of story as it unfolded was brilliant.  Rather than wait 5 minutes for someone to edit a page with "information coming soon" on it, they literally posted second by second what was happening from the reporters who were already on the scene.

Sure, there's the big write-up to read in detail after the event, but the decision to put out a story on Twitter in that fashion as it unfolded, was a great example from the ABC that showed off how Twitter can be used in a real-time manner when cameras aren't available.