Obligatory Twitterquake post

So last night, around 8 p.m. California time, a rather large truck was idling in front of our building.

That was what it felt like at first, then the wife and I looked at each other and said the magic word: “Earthquake.”

Whoa.

We scrambled for a few seconds, made some moves to grab the kid and get out the door, but it wasn’t getting any worse, and then it stopped.

You know the rest of the story by now.

I go back to the laptop, find out the two people I was talked with on IM felt it in San Jose and Fairfield, hit USGS.gov, find the quake immediately (epicenter NE of San Jose in the foothills), then hit Twitter.

To be fair, I was the second person in my network to get something up on Twitter about it, but then again, I don’t know every geek in the Bay Area.

And of course, the kicker

There was far more information available (and faster) on Twitter than there was in any local news outlet.

SFGate.com, the San Francisco Chronicle’s site, was the first to get a one-liner up with a link to the USGS. The Mercury News followed a long, long while later with a story full of quotes, and InsideBayArea.com (Oakland Tribune and other East Bay Papers) and the Santa Cruz Sentinel ran the Merc’s story shortly after that.

Ah, but there’s a twist

Some hour after I went to bed, my local paper did post a great story full of local color: A scene from the movie theater, a scene from Trader Joe’s, and the context of the Loma Prieta quake that beat the crap out of this town in 1989.

What now?

So the local paper did alright, hours later.

What I’d love to see, from all these papers, are breaking news blogs that anyone in the newsroom can publish to in a hurry. And by “publish,” I don’t mean make ten phone calls and wait for quotes from the Mayor’s press secretary to flesh out the story, I mean a running breaking news blog with the latest headline on the homepage of your site, very much like a Twitter stream:

“8:05 p.m. – Earthquake…”
“8:06 p.m. – Epicenter NE of San Jose according to USGS; no magnitude yet.”
“8:07 p.m. – No damage downtown; call us at 555-4242 if there’s anything broken in your neck of the woods.”

Better yet, just publish it to Twitter and your “breaking news blog” is the bit of javascript you slap at the top of the homepage to pull in your latest tweet.

More obligatory Twitterquake posts:

So, did you feel it?

2 thoughts on “Obligatory Twitterquake post

  1. “What I’d love to see, from all these papers, are breaking news blogs that anyone in the newsroom can publish to in a hurry.”

    Great idea, and well-expressed.

    Live-blogging, from multiple reporters.

    And by using the RSS feed, you can display it in a box at the top of the home page. You can have a breaking-news template ready to swap in at a moment’s notice.

    Everybody ought to be thinking this way!

  2. I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that “…ready to swap in at a moment’s notice” requires either in-house control of your news site’s templates or a corporate parent committed to making that option available quickly in a breaking news situation.

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