For quite some time, we've been pointing out that newspapers that are struggling to figure out how to survive on the internet need to get past the idea that they're delivering a final product, "news," and that's it. Internet savvy folks see themselves as a larger part
of the news process -- whether it means contributing to the story or spreading the story. Unfortunately, too many newspapers seem to think that "interactivity" just means adding comments
to the stories they've posted on the web. But that doesn't actually engage an audience and bring them into the process.
However, some newspapers are figuring this out. Check out this great story of how the Chicago Tribune interacted with some folks on Twitter
to both get alerted to a story, report on it, and then spread the news. There's been plenty of talk
about how breaking news often first appears on Twitter, but it's often mentioned in a way that suggests that Twitter and news organizations are somehow "competing." But that's not what happened with the Tribune.
Someone on Twitter in downtown Chicago noticed a bunch of scared people running out of Daley Center, claiming their lives were in danger -- so he Twittered
about it, asking if anyone knew what was going on. Others started asking about it, and one user alerted the Chicago Tribune's twitter account
. Then, the folks at the Tribune did what good professional reporters should do: checked out the story and twittered the details
, while alsoposting a full article
on the Tribune website about a bomb scare at Daley Center. And, following that, a bunch of folks who had originally helped alert the Tribune to the story, Twittered
the Tribune's story as well.
It's a much more interactive role, where the Tribune relied on the community to help alert it to a story, and then did what it should be able to do better: professionally gather the details and report on the situation -- and then let the community share and discuss the story as well. Slowly, but surely, it looks like some news organizations are figuring this stuff out.