Sometimes the reporters get it first

By Steve Outing

One of the great things about Twitter, of course, is that when a big breaking news event happens, there are often witnesses on the scene with a cell phone who will post some quick tweets about what’s going on, before any reporters can get there. (You’ll remember the Continental jet that went off a Denver runway recently and one of the survivors tweeted about his experience.)

An incident a few days ago proved that’s not always the case. I woke up on New Year’s day and looked at the news on my iPhone to see what was new in the world. Top story in a bunch of places was a crazy bombing threat that shut down much of the resort city of Aspen for much of New Years Eve. By the time I heard about it, the bomber had committed suicide and there was plenty of mainstream media coverage of the story.

But I was curious to see if Twitter was a decent source of news and eyewitness tidbits the evening before, when the craziness was going on and police were roping off city blocks and defusing bombs. I checked out several services (including Twitter’s own advanced search) and looked through tweets sent on New Years Eve by people in Aspen. I was a bit surprised to find not much. Plenty of chatter about sections of the city getting roped off, but nothing from the tweeting witnesses that shed much light on what was going on.

So the local Aspen newspapers got a bit of a break in being the ones getting breaking details onto their websites as their reporters learned what was going on. Columbia Journalism Review has an article that lauds the papers’ coverage: “Aspen New Year’s Eve Bomb Threat Proves—once again—the value of a local paper.”

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!