Interactive Storytelling Journalism The Social Web

What is ‘breaking the news’ in a Twitteruniverse?

BreakingNewsOn on Twitter
Breaking News is when a story breaks. You know a story will be serious news and you have to bring it, but you don’t know enough facts yet. The story has to break through and this process of breaking is the news. That’s why breaking news is so exciting to watch on television. It’s like a movie that starts with an event disrupting normal life and now we have to find out what happened, how big it is en who is responsible for it. Often a news story even has protagonists (firefighters, prime ministers) and antagonists (terrorists) like a movie.

Yesterday a new Twitter account was brought to my attention, called BreakingNewsOn is breaking the news. Over and over again.

Usually for news media breaking the news isn’t enough, after it breaks you have to write a story where you compose facts and time into an article.

In a Twitteruniverse it is not about the individual tweets it is about the story that the tweets combined will make. A continuous stream of events.

When you’re connected to a stream you don’t need the complete story written in an article. You’re right there as it happens. You just want facts and the status of these facts ‘rumor’, ‘confirmed’, ‘police-officer says’. You decide yourself if it is relevant information to the story that is building.

I worked in a newsroom for a while and you are really sitting on information treasure island. You have wires from all press agencies and news is flooding to you from every corner in the world. The thing that takes most of your time when there is breaking news is fact checking. Is this true? Is there an update already? Is this a trusted source? Could this source have another agenda? Let’s check with someone else, do we have confirmation? You don’t want wrong information to go out there.

Keeping information to yourself is not how the web grows. The power of the web is sharing information, as soon as you get it. Successful websites usually speed up something. The judgment of the news in a newsroom and writing an article about it is not speeding up news coverage. It is making it more reliable for sure, but it is not pushing it to the maximum speed limits.

Should we focus on bringing the news as it happens and forget about the ‘traditional filters’ on certain channels? I think so, although not everyone will agree.

The teachers at art school used to say the process is more important then the results. And this is what this is all about. Processing news, in public. Start live storytelling!

Early this year I guessed 2007 would be the year that online storytelling would finally go mainstream. I focussed on broadband and (interactive) video and I guess I was wrong about the how. Storytelling on the web will be big in 2007. Not because interactive video, but because the rise of life streaming websites.

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