Social media detailed a tragedy today.
While I learned of the Fort Hood shootings earlier this afternoon, it was a late afternoon scan of Twitter that connected me to the real-time news source set up by The Austin American-Statesman.
@fthoodshootings is an account quickly set up by the paper to create a dedicated line of real-time news around this sad and tragic story. In just a few hours the account already has more than 3,200 followers and is on more than 85 different lists as of publishing this post and climbing.
Unfortunately it’s not the first bittersweet example of how helpful Twitter can be in a crisis. Twitter became a lifeline of news and information coming from Iran during their election protests. During tragedy and crisis, a steady flow of information is more critical -- and sometimes even more elusive. The Sago Mine tragedy comes to mind as a time when Twitter might have been equally useful.
Statesmen’s Use of Twitter is Second-Nature
It’s no surprise that the Austin American-Statesman decided to report in this fashion. A Twitter power-user, their town is also home to social media festival SXSW and clearly Austin American-Statesman has made Twitter a seamless part of its news coverage.
Twitter Lists to Bring More News in Real-Time
For stories that aren’t breaking as quickly, allowing newspapers to devote more resources, you’ll surely see lists created to track story coverage. The Cincinnati Enquirer has already done so to cover its city’s recent elections. And Mashable points to other media outlets using lists to cover Fort Hood from afar. Real-time news is clearly in demand and Twitter lists ability to curate multiple sources in an easily-shared stream brings to mind multiple applications beyond just news coverage.
The stories are horrible. And let me note that my thoughts are with the families of the Fort Hood victims. But hopefully, by getting real-time news in this fashion, the Austin American-Statesman is ensuring the right story is told quickly.