Newspapers Realizing The News Is Really Interactive

from the it's-about-time dept

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.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2008 @ 1:49pm


    Interesting how technology evolves, both in its utility and influence.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Chris Charabaruk (profile), Aug 15th, 2008 @ 2:01pm

    You mean, Twitter was up? ;-)

    Lucky for them that Twitter was working at that moment, though! Imagine if it were down as usual.

    (I jest... I love Twitter and make use of it a lot. Hell, I got TwitKit in Firefox just so I can watch whenever any of my friends update. Still, that uptime issue has yet to be resolved.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    IL Padrone, Aug 15th, 2008 @ 2:06pm

    I think it's very interesting and cool in this situation....seems some of the twitterers should have got a story credit.... I don't personally use twitter...just seems to be too involved, I am not that interested in knowing or telly every move I make. But I also wonder if this same process could also be used for the opposite effect to cause panic where there is none?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Derick Harris, Aug 17th, 2008 @ 4:56am


    Maybe so! But, it's still news junk with a shelf life of maybe a day or so. Don't these twittering people have anything else to do with their time?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Sean, Aug 18th, 2008 @ 5:05am


    It's nice to see that the Tribune people checked the facts before getting all hot and bothered. I'd hate to see (as we inevitabely will) some journo splashing a breaking story all across the front-page, without actually doing some basic groundwork first!

    BTW, the "Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now." hyperlink seems to lead to a 404 Page Not Found (at least, on FF3 w/ NoScript installed, it does).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Aug 18th, 2008 @ 10:56am

      Re: Professionalism...

      some journo splashing a breaking story all across the front-page, without actually doing some basic groundwork first!

      Because, you know, that never happens with traditional media...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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