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Twitter Is News Consumers Friend

by John on 04/17/2015

Twitter is making it easier to get informed, be safe, and be your own journalist.

If you’re not on Twitter yet, join right away.

Let’s go over how to use it correctly.

First, let’s talk about being informed.

Twitter allows you to peruse news organizations with a wide range of philosophies and ideologies. On my main Twitter site, I follow about 60 different news sites. Granted, I am a bit extreme but this is part of my business. For instance, I work with a healthcare company and a travel company. I need to be up on news and politics both domestically and abroad.

My basic suggestions to follow: the New York Times, The Economist, the Wall Street Journal, and your local newspapers. Follow other news sites or blogs you find relevant based on personal interests or work. I try to get a balance of left, right, and middle of the road. You can even read the extremist sites to see what they’re up to. I do.

You may remember my trick of speed reading the first five paragraphs of each news story. Twitter allows you to take in a lot more stories and a wider range of opinion about those stories.

Second, Twitter can keep you safe by instantly informing you. Here’s how. It takes an extra step or two and a little research. First, follow your local TV news station and your local newspaper. Second, find the right people within the organizations to follow.

For instance, at your local TV news station follow the Assignment Desk. The Assignment Desk Manager is the one who sends out crews on news stories to be on the scene immediately. Many times the Assignment Desk Manager gets a phone call about a tip and they will go to twitter to find info from the public. A great example was late night in the newsroom. We thought we heard the scanner say something about a plane going down in a remote area but we didn’t know where. We tweeted about it and within minutes someone tweeted back that they had heard something in the area. A small plane had crashed.

Now think about what that might mean for you in your neighborhood – if a criminal is on the loose, a child is missing, a tornado is on the way, etc.

You can also follow one of the TV or newspaper reporters who seems to cover more breaking news or crime stories — or as we call it the “cop beat”.

The irony is that Twitter is blending into the media landscape. Most TV news stations have been solid on breaking news. Twitter sometimes makes those news outlets better, but they also make it less likely you will turn on that TV station when your smart phone is all you need.

Third, Twitter allows you to broadcast live — for yourself — with its Periscope App.

This is so cool. Once you download the app, it is connected to your twitter site on your smart phone and it connects directly to your video camera. And within seconds, you can be broadcasting to the world. And the quality is really good. Periscope is not perfect yet. For me, it was difficult to switch the camera to shoot a selfie. (I know it’s all about me.)

There is another app called Meerkat which is only available on iPhones but soon on Android. Most people will use Periscope on Twitter since Twitter owns the Periscope technology.

We are already beginning to use the Periscope technology for clients. This is a great way to break news first. It is also a great way to be first to comment on news that is breaking. For instance, if the Supreme Court overturns the Affordable Care Act in June, you can rest assured my Twitter will be tweeting live responses from our client, a medical cost sharing company.

But be careful. If you start using either of these apps, remember you are now a broadcaster. Certain privacy rules apply. The biggest rule: you have to notify anyone involved in your broadcast that you are broadcasting live and what you’re recording is being seen on social media. You need to announce it loud at the beginning of any broadcast you conduct.

Now if you’re recording a crime in progress that is a different story. You don’t need to notify the culprit. Just make sure the camera is on and you can get your butt out of there safely. A good trick is to keep the camera rolling while you are running or if you are confronted by someone even if you just record the audio. Yup that’s a Real TV trick.

Go for it, folks.

Any comments or questions, let me know on social media.

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