How to use Twitter to report breaking news


Peter Shankman wrote about the misuse of Twitter (in term of reporting breaking news). The former journalist of AP and editor of AOL News shows us a sample:

Today, there was a small evacuation at Grand Central Station in New York City. It was so small, in fact, that the media didn’t even pick up on it.

However, all over Twitter, within minutes, the rumor mill had fueled stories of “Explosions!” “People dead!” and other mass hysteria.

Except, none of it was true. There was a stray package. It was proven to be nothing, life went on as normal. In New York, we call that “10am.”

To avoid the above mistakes, Peter shares some useful tips on how to optimize Twitter to report the breaking news:

  • Report what you know – and only what you know to be true.
  • Verify with links.
  • If people you trust are retweeting other things people they trust are saying, that lends a level of credibility to their tweet.
  • The Ferris Bueller report is NOT ok. In other words, “My best friend’s sister’s boyfriend’s brother’s girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who saw an explosion in Times Square on a shaky phone video” is not accurate, trusted information.
  • Do NOT editorialize tweets from official sources like CNN.
  • Again, say what you know.


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