‘Don’t Tweet anything’

It kills me that I still hear assignment editors sending out reporters to the scene of a news scene, and instructing them NOT to Tweet.

About a decade ago, I remember convincing news editors that it was possible to scoop the competition online.

“A scoop is a scoop,” I’d say, and it was more than chiming off a lovely rhyme. Beating them to the story online is just the same as beating them in print.

It took a while, but it’s hard to find folks who would disagree with this now. So why doesn’t Twitter earn the same respect?

Today, our crime reporter got a tip about a possible homicide. A body was found by a bike path, and although emergency services hadn’t yet arrived, police were calling it a suspicious death.

“Go,” said our City Editor. “And don’t Tweet anything!” he shouted after her, as she ran off to get on the road.

Funny that we as journalists are still resistant to throwing it out to the public. What’s the harm in putting out everything we know at this point?

“Body found by a bike path. Police treating it as suspicious.” (If nothing else, this is the perfect Tweet).

Our City Editor’s competitive spirit is admirable, he wanted to get there first, maybe get photos from the scene before everyone else.

But Twitter has changed the game. We’re not the only ones out there broadcasting the news.

Sure enough, about 15 minutes after she left, a woman riding her bike home from work Tweeted our newsroom, and three of our competitors: “What’s going on down on the bike path… police tape, ambulance?” And like that, the news was out.

This commuter had scooped all of us.

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