How did you follow the events as the story of Re Gabby Giffords shooting unfolded?
What I saw was even more evidence that Social Media is how breaking news like this can best be followed both by the news organization and by us the public.
Confusion: Naturally at first, things are confusing. Traditionally news organizations try and scoop each other with the lead. Here is where NPR and then most traditional news fell over. NPR announced that Rep Giffords was dead and all the rest followed. She was not and later NPR apologized. It’s an easy mistake to make at the outset in a crisis like this. BUT is this war of the Official Scoop the best way forward now?
A better way? Coincidentally, just as the NPR newsroom and other traditional newsrooms were fumbling because of the culture of the “Scoop” – Andy Carvin, who is NPR’s Social Media Strategist was at home looking after his two kids. On his own, while parenting, Andy set up what I found was the best single site to follow the breaking story.
He used Storify as his tool. Storify enables you to be the Newspaper in times like these. Here is how Andy’s coverage unfolded in real time. He relied on his own use of Twitter and his very plugged in friends to feed him news from all over as it broke.
At the same time that Andy was doing this and looking after the kids – the New York Times and Huffington Post also set up pages that were updated in real time. Here is how the Times covered it live.
The Times did a good job – BUT Andy knocked it out of the park. There is real drama in Andy’s feed that is not there in the Times. Why is this?
I think that Andy was:
- Unconstrained – He was just doing his best without an editor looking over his every comment – He did not rely on any one source
- Very much better connected than the Times – or anyone else for that matter – so he got the best feeds – many people who trust Andy were all combing the feed to find material for him – so his story is comprehensive, timely, and has energy
- He knows how to comb the feed himself – Andy is a long time pro at all the tools and how best to use them
- He also injects his own humanity – he stopped for a while when the news of the girl’s death came out – for he too is a parent of small children and had them by his side while he was doing this
Are there not lessons here for all media organizations? Lesson for any organization really?
A well placed, experienced person who has a trusted network can on their own keep ahead of the most well equipped formal new organization.
That Breaking News need not be a Scoop Race but is best handled as a emergent story. Andy carried a tweet from NPR that said that Giffords was dead at 15.12. A new one from NPR at 15.36 that there was now doubt and one from AP that she was alive at 15.34 – In other words Andy offered us the reality of the real mess that always attends such an event. BTW he also end with the NPR apology and comment from Jeff Jarvis on this apology.
I can see many news organizations going here. But what about the business and the government sector?
Bad things happen. You have a product problem. Your campus is shut by a fire. A storm has shut your airport.
Most organizations do a news Organization thing. You wait until you are sure. But that is often too late. Get a voice going and YOU curate all the stories coming in. What people dislike the most is silence in these situations. You have the tools and the power to get a broad story out and to be a major influence on how people react to it.
Now it helps to have an Andy – but you should have one anyway. No organization can be professional now if they don’t have someone like Andy on the payroll.