Do you follow over 100 news sources? Are you the first to retweet earthquake tweets? Do you send late night DM’s to major new sources then see them show up on the news a few minutes later? If so, then you’re definitely a news hound.
Here are five tips to keep you at the top of the news food chain.
1) Follow a lot of news sources via Twitter.
News agencies are changing the way they present news information online. Before they used to only post full news stories. Now many are employing the “first to break” strategy. In that strategy, news agencies will start with a tweet on Twitter then move on to a very brief post on their site. If you follow a lot of news sites then you can use some of the other techniques below to stay ahead of the story.
Actress and activist Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) is great at posting hot news. If you look at who she’s following on Twitter, you’ll see a ton of news sources. By finding then retweeting news items, Alyssa is able to provide a valuable resource to her followers. Hot news also makes for great retweet material.
2) Follow a lot of people on Twitter.
If you are really on the hunt for news, you need to follow a lot of people. Breaking news happens all the time, in all parts of the world. Reading tweets from many followers helps build a picture of what’s going on without having to cobble information based on Trending Topics.
Rich Sanchez from CNN (@ricksanchezcnn) follows over 47,000 people and feeds on Twitter. This helps him track stories and connect with potential news sources.
If following many people puts a crimp in your social media plan, then rely on method number one and follow top breaking news sources.
3) Use Twitter’s advanced search.
With Twitter’s advanced search you can track down stories based on 18 different filters. One of the most powerful measures is searching by Place. For example, if you know there is a strong earthquake in a particular location, you can enter that location in the “near this location” textbox then set the distance from that location. This will show tweets from people that are actually in the area.
Also, if you enter “Twitpic” in the Words section, you can retrieve tweets with links to pictures.
4) User Twitter lists.
My process for tracking natural disaster news is to spot the news items from my timeline then do an advanced Twitter search and identify people who are in the region. The next step is to add those Twitterers to a new Twitter List. I used that news tracking process during the Fort Hood shootings.
Tracking people near the news site during an emergency or natural disaster helps give a three-dimensional view of what’s happening. The tweets are also likely to be less “filtered” then that coming from official news sources.
5) Search emergency live feeds.
When you are on the news hunt for information on an emergency or natural disaster, do a Web search over [cityname] + “fire department live feeds.” Fire trucks are often the first on the scene of an emergency and you can usually find a live feed online. I used fire department scanners to track the plane crash in Denver in 2008.
6) BONUS: Search Web Cams.
You’ve been very patient up to now so I’m throwing in a 6th Hot Tip. If you do a Web search over [cityname] + “live cam” or “web cam” you will usually be able to get video of the area. I used this technique during the last tsunami watch in Hawaii and off the California coast.
The next time emergency news breaks, use techniques 3-6 above and get a rich 3D view of the news story.
Do you have any other resources or techniques that you use for tracking breaking news? I’d love to hear about them.