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How to break news on Twitter

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How to break news on Twitter

Lindsay Kalter | June 04, 2012

The information age has brought the media industry an entirely new brand of breaking news—the kind that is posted, tweeted, re-tweeted and shared with a few clicks.

In a live Twitter chat Wednesday hosted by Muck Rack and moderated by blogger Elana Zak, journalists gathered to share tips on how to deal with the redefined protocol created by social media news-sharing.

Here are IJNet's takeaways:

Don’t cry wolf News items reported on Twitter are often mislabeled as breaking news, detracting from the stories that actually warrant the title, according to some chat participants. "’Breaking News’ when appropriately flagged is very important,” said Alex J. Martin, new media specialist at the Record-Journal. But “not every car accident is ‘breaking news.’”

Link to a story Since Twitter provides an additional venue for news dissemination, some journalists wonder whether to post breaking news on their employers' websites, or to tweet it from their personal accounts. Chat participants agreed that both methods should be used. “I think they go hand-in-hand - you write it up then rush to tweet out the link to the outlet's site,” said Natan Edelsburg, vice president of Sawhorse Media.

Honor embargoes With the constant outpouring of information on social networking sites, it's tempting to regard embargoes as a thing of the past. But chat participants say they are alive and well and should continue to be upheld to maintain good reporter-source relationships. “Embargoed Press Releases are part of the game,” tweeted Adam Popescu, technology reporter at the Los Angeles Business Journal. “If you want to be on good terms with public relations, gotta respect it.”

Practice full disclosure Ideally, all of the facts should be verified before a breaking news item is posted. But if there are still some holes to be filled, said the tweeters, be clear in your post. “Make sure to state what you know and what you DON’T know yet,” said Sarah Millar, social media and community editor for OpenFile. “And source your info.”

For a full transcript of the chat, click here.