Monday, 6 July 2009

Using old and new media for breaking news

A crane fell down in Liverpool today, crashing onto an apartment block, and I knew about it within seconds, from two sources.
One was eyewitness who rang the Echo - it being the kind of local paper that people do still ring when things happen - and the other was Thom Shannon sat in an office near the scene of the accident, who twittered what had happened:

Within seconds Thom and Stuart Robarts at FACT had photos online via Twitpic and Flickr (Thom used a rather ingenious method of combining iPhone and binoculars to get a shot) before photographer extraordinaire, Pete Carr, heard about the news and headed off with his kit.
His photos are here.
The Echo and Post had great copy, a map, images and video on the websites but it was taking too long to cache, so we made sure the papers Twitter streams kept up constant breaking news with links back to our copy, while retweeting locals who had images on Flickr and other sites.

There was the inevitable 'who needs newspapers' tweet...

Need newspapers? maybe not, but a lot of those on my networks wanted journalists to ask the questions they wanted answers to. After all, everyone knew one fact - a crane had fallen onto flats - but it was journalists from the Post&Echo who were trying to fill in the details.
So you have...

followed by...

Scores of people were asking if anyone was hurt, were people trapped, just what had happened - and we were able to answer those queries only because we had reporters on the ground, in the office making phone calls to the emergency services, and talking to the HSE, among other. We managed to wrongly credit @FACT_Liverpool on the Echo's changed front page but since the story broke as the print run was in progress, it was inevitable a mistake would creep through.

Anyway, it was a good way to combine as many different strands of storytelling as possible. Traditional print, mixed with online social media, staff video and photos, and broke the news, then kept updating the story, very effectively.

I also put together a quick Dipity Flipbook of a feed grabbed from Twitter Search, which should update itself in the future.

I could have made the search term wider but you'd be amazed how many tweets contain the word 'crane' without it ever being in reference to "Any arm which swings about a vertical axis at one end, used for supporting a suspended weight", let alone collapsing ones.
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