Today was one of those days that makes you remember why you love this business so much. And if ever a case was made for every reporter in every newsroom having a smartphone, today was it.
When I walked into the newsroom this morning, the publisher was talking to the city editor and our temporary mobile journalist about a call he’d gotten from a local high school. His son attends the school and they were informing parents about an apparent shooting threat. They told parents they could keep their kids at home or come pick them up if they had already been dropped off. Heavily armed police officers were guarding the school and calls were starting to come into the newsroom from panicked parents.
Since we are on Day Three of our live tweeting experiment, our intrepid journo with the Droid headed up to the school to see what he could find out. As soon as he arrived, the information started flowing right onto our front page. And it was an awesome sight to behold. He was able to get in and speak to the plethora of parents who had arrived to pick up their kids and find out more information from the police and school officials.
The next thing I know, I’m getting a flood of Facebook friend requests (our Twitter updates flow to our Facebook page) from people following the story on our website. When they held an impromptu press conference to assure parents their kids would be safe to come back to class, Jack used Qik on his Droid to send it live as it happened. When it ended, I was able to embed the video right into the full story another reporter wrote when all the excitement died down.
We were able to tweet – as the words “the suspect has been arrested” as the words were coming out of the Administrator’s mouth, flowing it to our site and thus making our leap into real time news. It was incredible to behold and the best part is the entire newsroom, from my usual ‘bah humbuggers’ to the ones who’ve embraced it, could finally see all of this in action.
I think it’s one thing to talk about the Hudson River landing and Twitter’s role there, or Twitter’s role with Haitian relief to these folks, but it’s simply not going to “sink in” until they can see it in action locally like they did this morning.
It’s been an awesome morning. I will stipulate that by also saying I am terribly glad nobody was hurt and that the threats never came to fruition. My daughter graduated from this very school only last year.
Yesterday, we held an impromptu meeting to discuss some issues with this experiment and to see what could be improved. Some lessons from that – and from this morning are below:
What do you think?
I work as the Web Editor and Social Media Coordinator for the Grand Island Independent, in Nebraska, which is owned by the Omaha World Herald.
~ Journalism allows its readers to witness history; fiction gives its readers an opportunity to live it. ~ John Hersey
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