Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Breaking News in a Social Age

Today was a fun day for me, nestled within a wild week. We've had two huge news events in Austin that were polar opposites (pun kinda intended.) We set a page view record on statesman.com with the somber plane crash into an office building, and then at least sniffed the top 10 with a much more fun Snowpacolypse.

Steve Buttry wrote a good explanation of how (and why) we use Twitter and Social Media to cover breaking news. The Statesman Social Media Editor Robert Quigley explains both in that piece and in a recent Old Media, New Tricks entry how listening to Social Media can be a win for news organizations.

I was knee-deep in it today when Quig took a day off and I got to fill in. We knew it was going to be an interesting day with the forecast of snow, which is a rare event in ATX. I fed the @AustinWeather and the @statesman accounts while working on other projects. It was really gratifying to share in the childish joy of Austin as we ate snow, sledded down hills and built countless snowmen.

One reader had the idea to have a contest to "name" the snow event. So I egged the Twittersphere on:

RT (Go for it!) @JulieGomoll: @jonlee11 Agreed! Hey, @statesman - how about a naming contest for our "snow day"? I think it's snowbigdeal

I encouraged folks to use the hashtag #atxsnowname and then made a Twitter widget to pull in the tweets, posting them in our Weather Watch blog.

There were about 75 tweets (including mine) of the #atxsnowname hashtag. It was a quick way for Austinites to have fun for a couple of hours.


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