Twitter lists are useless a week after news breaks

Shortly after a shooter took the lives of 13 American soldiers at Fort Hood last week, some news organizations used Twitter Lists to help report information as it surfaced. It caught the attention of both journalists and social media observers.

Let’s see if those lists still provide useful updates or at least some basic information about the news that broke seven days ago.

Here are five recent tweets from the list created by CNN.

Fort Hood list from @cnnbrk

And here is a the top of the list from Dallas Morning News.

Fort Hood Shootings list from @DallasCrimeThese are the results from The Today Show’s list.

Fort Hood list from @todayshow

The Huffington Post has a good page of Twitter coverage. From that page, this is their list of Fort Hood Locals.

Fort Hood Locals list from @huffingtonpost

I think the New York Times did the best job with this one. They simply deleted their now useless list altogether.

Fort Hood Shootings list from @nytimes

I am not saying that all Twitter lists become useless for news organizations, of course. There are many ways journalists can make use of Twitter lists.

But if lists eventually lose their usefulness for breaking news, are there other real-time solutions that can do a better job? Visit the Fort Hood pages from TopsyBlogRunnerMoopzKosmixTinkerOneRiot, DayMixTipTop and AllVoices and let me know what you think. Do those pages work better than Twitter lists, or do they too become irrelevant seven days after news breaks?

Which tweeted quote would you add to the story?

Journalists can use Twitter to as a live reporting tool, but what if you are writing a story from afar and are looking for quotes as provided by “citizen” journalists at an event?

Simply adding a widget that pulls in tweets about the event will likely just add confusion and repetition. For example, author Chris Brogan spoke at Blog World Expo yesterday. Take a look at the Twitter search results for “@chrisbrogan #bwe09”.

Twitter search for @chrisbrogan and farmvilleWhat about focusing on just one part of the event? You’ll still get similar results. Let’s focus on something that Brogan (reportedly) said about the Farmville Facebook game.

Click on the image at the right to see the many retweets and Twitter reaction to Brogan’s Farmville comment. Adding that into a blog post or article would do little to clarify or advance a story.

What if a system could automatically eliminate retweets and just list the few messages from the people who originally quoted Brogan? Here is a my handmade version of that list:

  1. Steve Radick
    sradick @chrisbrogan has one bit of advice for you – “get out of Farmville, you dumbass” #bwe09
  2. Daynah
    daynah lol, @chrisbrogan just told us to uninstall Farmville. :) #bwe09
  3. Jay Berkowitz
    JayBerkowitz @ChrisBrogan Uninstall Farmville you stupid monkeys #BWE09 #fightcancer
  4. Suzanne Peters
    suzannepeters @chrisbrogan: “uninstall farmville you dumb monkeys” lol #bwe09
  5. Mark Krynsky
    krynsky “Uninstall Farmville you dumb monkeys” @chrisbrogan at #bwe09

this quote was brought to you by quoteurl

There a some serious discrepancies that need to be addressed:

  • Did Brogan tell people to stop playing Farmville, or to actually uninstall the Facebook app?
  • Did Brogan call people dumbasses, stupid monkeys or dumb monkeys?

So how would you address those questions?

  • Would you go through Craig Kanalley’s tweet verification process and share only what you determine to be the most accurate comment?
  • Would you share the list of five original tweets and let readers decide which quote to believe?
  • Would you link to the Twitter search results and give readers the chance to see all of the white noise, public reaction and spam for themselves?
  • Would you omit Brogan’s comment from the story altogether?

Please leave your comments below. I’m trying to figure out how a storystreaming platform could help support that part of today’s reporting process.

Follow journalism on Twitter with one click

I recently used Tweepml to create a list of Twitter users who frequently discuss different aspects of journalism. Tweepml lets you follow all of those people, or just those who interest you, in one fell swoop.

Tweepml journalism list

Who do you think should be added to the list? Leave your suggestions in the comments below or send me a tweet.

Big hat tip to Jon Lansner for bringing Tweepml to my attention.

Take these journalism links from my Delicious network

Below is a nearly real-time list of web pages that members of my Delicious network have recently saved and tagged with words and phrases related to journalism. It was created using RSS feeds and Yahoo Pipes.

I had hoped to explain how you can build your own pipe to aggregate social bookmarks about topics that are important to you, but I’m not sure when I’ll get to that. For now, feel free to review my Delicious journalism pipe, embed it in your own blog, use its RSS feed, or clone the pipe and tweak it to suit your needs.

And this is the end.