By Steve Outing
Last night I was talking to a reporter about Twitter and its implications for journalism. I’d previously written a blog item on this topic for Poynter’s E-Media Tidbits. That conversation helped me come up with another idea: the Twittering city desk. Is anyone trying this yet?
The idea is simple enough. We are now in an era when news is not something that you hold on to. As a news organization, you want to get news out as quickly as possible. Assembling even a short summary story for immediate publication on your website is going to take a few minutes. You can of course send out an e-mail news alert to subscribers; that’s a bit faster.
But how about asking city editors (or whatever you call your front-line editors) to feed a breaking-news Twitter flow throughout the day? For people who want to know what’s going on as quickly as possible, this could be a valuable service (and, I bet, popular among news junkies).
I’d think of this slightly differently than an e-mail headline alert service. Most news organizations send those out sparingly — only when a breaking story is truly significant. If you lowered the bar and sent alerts more often for lots of news stories, readers would feel like they’re getting too much e-mail from you. But a Twitter feed is a bit different; multiple “tweets” during the day won’t be perceived in the same way.
This would be a small task for your front-line editors. Having reporters do it is an alternative, but then you have to trust them. What do you think? Are news organizations ready for this?