I’ve mentioned before that one of the few Twitter feeds I follow is Breaking News or Breaking News On. Didn’t know much about them except they were consistently 10 to 15 minutes ahead of almost anyone else when it came to breaking a story–and usually did a pretty good job of reporting stories of significance rather than just filling up my Tweetdeck.
Well, New York Times did a story about them–not that it seems they were terribly happy about the way the paper reported on their plans to sell and iphone app and charge a monthly fee for their breaking news. Hey, if you are 19 years old, figured out a way to out scoop the biggies, got 800,000 people hanging on your every tweet and out perform ABC News and others in the social media news world, who would take away their right to make a little money on their hard work?
If you follow them you might note their coverage of the false report from a Sacramento TV station about a commuter plane crash. You can see how they work and what happens when the report is false. The breaking news feed on the TV station reported a commuter plane crash. They contacted FAA who did not confirm. They watched the news feed from the TV station and watched the crawl quietly disappear. Finally confirming that no commuter plane crashed. Tweeting unpleasantly about their lack of trust in that TV station, then apologized to followers for the inaccurate report.
And that’s how it is done today. Speed is everything. Tell what you know right now. Try to confirm. Tell what you know and don’t know. Correct asap if you got it wrong. Tell why. Apologize for any mistakes. And keep talking.
This is almost impossible for most in crisis communications and emergency management to grasp. They cannot conceive of this speed requirement and this new audience expectation. Get it right the first time or don’t say anything at all is their belief. Too bad that that means when they do get around to speaking, no one will be listening.