A friend in the broadcast news business asked me what I thought about a news organization tweeting what comes over on the police scanner. It’s common practice for newspapers, radio stations and television stations to keep an ear cocked toward the police scanner, a fixture in any newsroom. It can be the first source for a story that is unfolding and may help a news crew get to the scene before the competition.
Often, though, a lot of nonevents and false alarms are reported – it takes a practiced ear to separate the news from the mundane and even then, false reports sometimes leak through.
So the question is, should news organizations be tweeting those first, early reports — the unsubstantiated buzz — heard on the scanner?
My position on this is that we look to the news organizations for fact — we trust them to be verifying the news they’re reporting and if there’s a change or an update, to report that as well. I want to trust that a news Twitter feed is actually NEWS; there are plenty of other Twitter accounts to tweet the rumors.
I applaud news organizations for recognizing that Twitter is a place they need to be, to share information and respond to the community, but I strongly caution management and news directors of these organizations to have the discussion internally about how Twitter should be used, and to be aware that anything the organization publishes or broadcasts on any platform can impact the integrity of the organization.
What do you think?