Reporting in real time.

Kat and I were tapping away on our keyboards last week when suddenly the whole office (and everything in it!) began to shake. About 10 seconds later when the shaking had stopped, we looked at each other and asked “..was that an earthquake??”

Quickly logging onto The Age website, we found a short article which confirmed our theory – people all over the city had tweeted they had felt an earthquake. This was the extent to the initial coverage – Tweets. Because in this day and age, waiting until the evening news or tomorrow’s papers for news is no longer sufficient. We want the answer now.

How many times have you wondered about some interesting piece of trivia and quickly whipped out your phone to find out the answer? So it seems journalists of today have to be even quicker to respond to events today than ever before. And if you don’t have all the details, there is sure to be someone (or 100s!) on twitter who can tell you exactly what happened – the story can always be modified later to include actual facts.

On the 3rd of July, Twitter introduced Twitter for Newsrooms (TfN) which gives journalists a set of publishing guidelines designed to help journalists use the platform effectively.

This includes how to find sources, verifying facts, publishing stories and promoting articles – all aimed to get news out to the public faster and faster.

The website has been split into four categories to make the journalist’s life a little easier:


Shows the journalist how to use Twitter’s advanced search functions which now includes finding information based on sentiment by filtering the use of emoticons. The report section also shows journalists how to find case studies and how to verify sources.

Provides a glossary of key terms and examples of people in the media that are using TfN effectively, e.g. former CBS News anchor Kate Couric (@katieCouric).

This section shows how to integrate Twitter feeds into their own websites and broadcasts. It also provides guidelines on how content from the network should be displayed and credited.

The final section provides links to Twitter blogs, including other languages, support and safety help desks and other resources.

But Twitter is not the only social media platform used by the media. Facebook introduced a similar tool for journalists called Facebook + Journalists in April.

Facebooks’ Justin Osofsky said “We’re launching a new ‘Journalists on Facebook’ page to serve as an ongoing resource for the growing number of reporters using Facebook to find sources, interact with readers, and advance stories. It will provide journalists with best practices for integrating the latest Facebook products with their work and connecting with the Facebook audience of more than 500 million people.”

Another tool that is becoming popular is SourceBottle which allows users to sign up either as a journalist/blogger or as a ‘source’. SourceBottle allows journalists to send call-outs for experts in any given field, free of charge, whilst for the ‘source’, he/she can volunteer to give expert opinions on a certain topic. The journalist’s job to find sources for comment just got a whole lot easier.

As our lives are becoming more and more reliant on up-to-the-minute information, social media tools that allow news to be reported in real time are going to become more and more common. For media, this means having to find sources and comment within minutes of an issue or event occurring and for businesses, this means being able to engage with stakeholders just as quickly. If not, you might just find yourself to be ‘old news’.

Ellis Jones can help you create an online presence using engagement strategies to take your ideas, products and services online, attracting people and holding them over time. Read more in the social media section of our website.