Best Use of Social Media for News← Go back to category
Coverage of the Oslo bombing and shootings on Utøya
BreakingNews, part of the Msnbc Digital Network
Feb. 21, 2012
- Social Media for News
Team members: Cory Bergman - General Manager, Thomas Brew - Editorial Manager, Stephanie Clary - Senior Editor, Radhika Marya - Editor, Tom McArthur - Editor, Lauren McCullough - Editorial Supervisor, David Wylie - Editor, Zoya Ali - Developer, Christian Metts - Developer, Martin McClellan - User Experience Designer, Ben Tesch - Creative Director
About this entry
As the July 22 attacks in Norway developed from an explosion in Oslo to shootings at a youth camp, BreakingNews fully utilized editorial and social resources in order to ensure accurate real-time coverage.
We first learned of the explosion through AP and within seconds we pushed out updates to our 2 million-plus followers on Twitter and Facebook. Minutes later, we posted the first eyewitness photo from social media – one of about two dozen photos and videos we published of the scene.
After reports of a gunman on Utøya island, we began tracking updates from several Norway-based Twitter accounts reporting what they saw on local TV. We also curated from UK, US and Norwegian sites, wires, and social media.
We posted 155 updates in 24 hours and each delivered new information, linking back to the original source. We distributed news on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Google Plus (Google did not allow brand accounts, so we distributed through personal accounts) in platform-specific formats.
The case for why this entry should win a Shorty
BreakingNews began as a Twitter account, @breakingnews, and it’s probably what we’re best known for. But since our parent company Msnbc Interactive acquired the rights to the account in 2009 we’ve expanded to a website, mobile apps, Facebook, Google Plus, Tumblr and several other social services, all under the BreakingNews brand.
With offices in Seattle, New York and London, we’re staffed 24/7 with a team of editors who scan the world for the first verified reports of breaking news.
The Norway attacks on July 22 are one example of how BreakingNews utilizes our social accounts to distribute, discover, verify and package updates on quickly-developing stories as they unfold. It illustrates our editorial muscle as well as our social media savvy: We worked across a language barrier and ensured accuracy while also experimenting with real-time reporting on a new platform, Google Plus.
Our large amount of updates on this topic may inspire the assumption that we were acting as a firehose of information – pulling in anything and everything on this topic – but it was quite the opposite workflow, intention and result.
We’re aware of our reach, on Twitter especially, and editors worked feverishly to verify all information by cross-checking updates with US, UK and Norwegian news websites, social accounts and broadcasts. And we also tried to find the original source of information whenever possible, to ensure we weren’t spreading rumors as this story developed in real-time on social media. Across all platforms, we avoided publishing early, inaccurate rumors, including speculation of the suspect’s race.
At one point, a YouTube clip of a “second explosion” in Oslo was widely shared on Twitter, but after viewing it several times – cross-referencing it with other videos and backtracking the source – we discovered it was fake and did not publish a link to it.
As much as we stress speed, we were most concerned about getting the information right on this story and then distributing it widely across our accounts.
Taking all of our accounts together, BreakingNews provided a faster, more comprehensive summary of the Norway story than any other news source. We provided our coverage beyond the confines of Twitter to a large, multiplatform mainstream audience. Users could also follow the social sources we discovered along the way.
Inside Breaking News blog post written after the first few days of covering the Norway attacks: http://blog.breakingnews.com/post/8050720643/how-we-curated-the-norway-tragedy-fridays
Examples of how editors used personal Google Plus accounts to distribute news (at the time, Google did not allow brand accounts):
+Cory Bergman: https://plus.google.com/u/0/109964383582532868438/posts/KdCyJ1Dpxp1
+stephanie clary: https://plus.google.com/u/0/107531155995244310236/posts/EnkC3u5bqgV