Executive tweets during search for murder suspect

Shortly after four police officers were killed in Washington, David Boardman (@dlboardman), the executive editor of The Seattle Times started using Twitter.

His account was created 27 days prior to the shooting, and he had tweeted once. After the police slayings, Broadman posted two messages telling people to visit the site. Then, he started really using Twitter.

He provided live updates throughout the day as police tried to find suspect Maurice Clemmons.

  1. David Boardman
    dlboardman UW Police say suspect may be in the U District. Someone reportedly saw him get off a Metro bus there. #washooting #lakeshoot #leschi
  2. David Boardman
    dlboardman Heavy police activity, including K9 units, in and around Dr. José Rizal Park in Beacon Hill. #washooting
  3. David Boardman
    dlboardman Police now say the suspect is not in Rizal Park on Beacon Hill.
  4. David Boardman
    dlboardman Police search seems to have hit a lull. Little scanner chatter or visible activity in Leschi, Beacon Hill. #washooting
  5. David Boardman
    dlboardman Latest police search focus: Maynard Avenue South and South Dearborn, in International District. Lots of cops. #washooting
  6. David Boardman
    dlboardman Employees at RDA Building, 800 S. Maynard, told to stay in the building. One says he can see a bloody gauze on sidewalk. #washooting
  7. David Boardman
    dlboardman Another empty lead? Alex Hong at Spic ‘n Span Cleaners on Maynard Ave. says 4 police cars there now, were 10 a few minutes ago. #washooting
  8. David Boardman
    dlboardman Cops looking for green 1997 Mazda Millenia, WA license 208SSX, registered to Clemmons’ wife. #washooting
  9. David Boardman
    dlboardman State Patrol calls off search for ’97 Mazda Millenia. Reports say car recently had been sold by Clemmons’ wife. #washooting
  10. David Boardman
    dlboardman Police say Clemmons getting help from family, friends to evade capture. Couldn’t do alone b/c he has abdominal wound, they say. #washooting
  11. David Boardman
    dlboardman SWAT team has arrested relative believed to be helping Clemmons. #washooting
  12. David Boardman
    dlboardman Police conducting “tactical operations” at 4 sites, including Renton house. Search warrants for all. #washooting

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He repeated information from other organizations on Twitter.

David Boardman retweets

He even retweeted and shared a link to a blog from Seattle alt-weekly, The Stranger.

David Boardman retweets blogger

He mistakenly said a school was locked down.

David Boardman tweets about school locked down

He corrected that mistake.

David Boardman corrects a tweet

He stated the facts, even when officials didn’t confirm.

David Boardman tweets unconfirmed information

Thirteen hours after his first tweet was sent, he directed followers over to the Times web site and another Twitter account.

David Boardman's last tweet on first day of the search for Maurice Clemmons

I’ve never seen a news executive jump in and use Twitter in this way. Should more executives follow this example? Should they be tweeting on a daily basis, not necessarily about breaking news? What do they have to gain? What do they have to lose? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

Hat tip to Adam Schweigert (@aschweig) who noted Boardman’s work and Sonya Smith (@sonyanews) who asked for my thoughts.

One thought on “Executive tweets during search for murder suspect

  1. What's interesting is that at a future-of-news meet-up back in February, someone erroneously attributed a quote to Boardman while he was in the room and Boardman seemed to take a hint of pleasure in correcting the person and pointing out how fast the misquote spread on Twitter. Of course, anyone who uses Twitter knows that the beauty of it is that it doesn't take 24 hours to publish a correction.

    I say this not to charge Mr. Boardman with hypocrisy, but to point out that this is a guy who, not too long ago, seemed a curmudgeonly Old Media type and is now at least showing a willingness to experiment at the forefront of digital publishing.

    I applaud the Times for their efforts (and congratulate them—they apparently pulled in record traffic) and I'll add that I think a lot of people here in Seattle were surprised. The Times isn't exactly seen as being at the cutting edge of New Media, but their moves of late seem to indicate that the culture there is changing. I'm really interested and excited to see what they do next.

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