The Twitter wind storm

By Steve Outing

Last night in Boulder (and not ending till this morning) we had one of our area’s famous windstorms. I saw reports of 80 to 90 mph wind gusts in some areas of the region. (I didn’t get much sleep last night due to the noise, as I’m sure was common for folks around town.)

So what was the first thing I did when I got out of bed? I looked for Boulder Twitter posts to see what other locals were saying, and if they experienced any wind damage. It didn’t occur to me to look in the local newspaper’s website, because I knew that I’d get a good picture of what happened via local tweets.

Lots of journalists have been pondering and pontificating on how to use Twitter to cover news, including me. Last night’s wind storm was yet another classic example. A traditional reporter looking for Boulder residents’ personal experiences could save a lot of time by finding local tweets to pick up tidbits, and contacting some of those Twitter users for follow-up interviews. That surely beats walking or driving around town interviewing people, or calling random residents on the phone.

Here are a few simple ways to find location-specific tweets, such as last night and this morning from Boulder:

  1. Use and search for “boulder winds.” (Skip the quote marks.)
  2. Search for Boulder. (That’ll get you all tweets from Boulder, not just ones about the wind storm.)
  3. Many iPhone Twitter apps have search features, which you can use for searching by location and/or keywords. I use Twitterlator Pro and love it.

I’ve just scratched the service. As Twitter use grows, it’s becoming an increasingly useful tool not just for people wanting to keep informed of fast-breaking news, but for reporters looking for eyewitnesses to add to their coverage.

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!