One person’s news, delivered by Twitter

By Steve Outing

My local newspaper didn’t tell me that my friend Yann crashed on his mountain bike and ended up in the hospital this week. Twitter did, since he posted a note to his Twitter followers about the accident.

I think this points out a problem and an opportunity for newspapers. Problem: they don’t offer people the micro-local and personal news and information that makes a difference in people’s lives. Opportunity: they need to offer the micro-local and personal news and information that makes a difference in people’s lives.

Do I really mean to get THAT local? Yeah, I do think there’s great value in a digital monitoring system that brings me news about people I know, my neighbors, my neighborhood, schools my kids attend, organizations I belong to, interest groups (e.g., sports, hobbies) that I belong to or follow, etc. I mean individuated, personalized news feed.

That exists to a degree already on Facebook, since personal news from my Facebook friends gets fed through my Newsfeed there. Local news organizations might use that as a model, developing individuated-news services that monitor news from a wide variety of sources — even Twitter, the micro-blogging service/social network.

For a while now I’ve been advocating that local news organizations, especially newspapers, start doing a better job of tapping all the great sources of information about their communities: local bloggers, institution websites and newsletters, government agencies’ websites and databases, etc. Yann’s misfortune, and how I found out about it, reminded me that Twitter and other similar services also are a source of “news” that can be monitored and leveraged by a reinvented local news organization when it makes a commitment to individuated news for its community members.

Author: Steve Outing Steve Outing is a Boulder, Colorado-based media futurist, digital-news innovator, consultant, journalist, and educator. ... Need assistance with media-company future strategy? Get in touch with Steve!