When a jet crashed just outside Amsterdam on Feb. 25, more than 3,000 people and several news organizations got firsthand accounts from the scene by turning to Breaking Tweets (www.breakingtweets.com), a three-week-old Web site launched by a college student.
Breaking Tweets, an online news aggregator launched Jan. 31, is the brainchild of DePaul University College of Communication graduate student Craig Kanalley and has already built a global following and received kudos from some key players in the social media industry.
Breaking Tweets integrates news and relevant Twitter feedback to create a one-of-a-kind Web experience for readers by providing eyewitness accounts of breaking news stories from around the world.
Tweets are manually selected by editors and arranged like quotes to tell a story in a journalistic style. Priority is given to tweets with pictures, videos and/or eyewitness accounts from the scene as well as instant reaction to the news, Kanalley said. It then puts together an easy-to-read story with “quick hits” for those wanting to see Twitter reaction by those most affected by the news.
Since launching on Jan. 31 to the date of this release, Breaking Tweets has had more than 30,532 page views from people in 111 countries, amassing more than 1,414 followers, including media such as CNN, the BBC and the Los Angeles Times.
According to one of the fastest growing Internet sites, Alltop.com (www.alltop.com), an online information aggregator, Breaking Tweets was the most popular site on Alltop for a 24-hour period between Feb. 25 and 26, just a few hours after Breaking Tweets was posted on Alltop. It has been visited by people in every European country and every U.S. state.
“On Twitter there’s a lot of junk out there. With all the clutter, it’s hard to find the good, honest feedback. Breaking Tweets is an effort to provide just that,” said Kanalley, who was part of a team of DePaul journalism students who covered the presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C., by live blogging and Twittering for the Chicago Sun-Times’ blog called the D.C. Project.
“Breaking Tweets filters through all the garbage and picks out the most relevant tweets, verifies their authenticity as best as possible, then organizes it in a way that only those with a journalistic background could do,” he said.
“Its philosophy is ‘hyper-local gone global.’ There is an emphasis on what is happening in a specific place at a specific time, and it looks at how people are reacting to that event in the area,” said Kanalley, who is also online editor of DePaul’s student newspaper, The DePaulia, and content producer/blogger for WindyCitizen.com.
In addition to Kanalley, Breaking Tweets contributing editors include 11 DePaul journalism students and college students from across the country, including James Buck, a journalism graduate student from University of California, Berkeley who gained international attention by Twittering his way out of an Egyptian jail with his one-word Tweet, “Arrested,” in April 2008. Also contributing is David Mac Dougall, a freelance reporter who has spent much of the last five years working as FOX News TV’s Iraq correspondent based in Baghdad. He also appears frequently on Sky News and the FOX Business Network.
The team operates in a “virtual newsroom,” keeping in touch via e-mail and online. They have their own “beats,” or regions or topics, and choose stories based on relevance, monitoring sites like the BBC, CNN and Al Jazeera and Twitter as a guide.
In late February, Kanalley was contacted by Alltop cofounder Guy Kawasaki, a venture capitalist dubbed by Forbes magazine as the No.1 most influential Twitterer in the world and the Internet’s ninth most famous person. Kanalley and some of the Breaking Tweets staff met with Kawasaki in Chicago to discuss Breaking Tweets.
“Breaking Tweets kicks butt because it shows how much a few passionate
people can do with a great idea,” Kawasaki said.
Andrew Nystrom, senior producer of social and emerging media at the Los Angeles Times, also lauded Kanalley’s news site, calling Breaking Tweets a “great concept.”
DePaul College of Communication Professor Bruce Evensen, director of the master’s degree program in journalism, said, “Breaking Tweets is to hyper-local news what Google is to search engines. It gives reliable news from the scene of major international events with the ease of the keystroke. This very unique and creative use of social media provides a valuable service to readers.”
DePaul’s College of Communication is the fourth-largest provider of bachelor’s degrees in communication in Illinois and second in the Chicago area. It is the second largest provider of master’s degrees in communication in the state. It offers undergraduate programs in communication studies; journalism; media and cinema studies; public relations and advertising; and communication and media. Graduate programs include journalism; public relations and advertising; media, culture and society; and organizational and multicultural communication.