Three Twitter Success Stories From KCUR, KETR and WSKG

May 29, 2012

As part of a Knight training exercise, reporters are keeping a close watch on Twitter as a way to generate story ideas. We heard from three journalists who discovered news through Twitter and used it for reporting and programming.

Long waits at the DMV

Emilie Mutert, KCUR

Emilie was browsing Twitter and noticed a frustrated Twitter user sounding off about the local county's DMV office. The tweet mentioned that wait times were unusually long -- seven or so hours. Emilie tweeted a call-out from @KCUR asking people how long they had to wait at the DMV.

Emilie heard similar stories from other tweets and decided to give the DMV offices a call. She found out that the wait times were indeed longer than usual. She continued to monitor Twitter in the week following.

"The next week I saw a tweet that someone was still waiting a long time in line at the DMV, so I checked the wait times on the DMV site and saw that they were still quite long," Emilie told me in an e-mail. "So I hunted around on the DMV site and found some press releases that explained more about what was going on."

Emilie used all of this information to write up a story on the long wait times, and she even embedded some of the tweets into the story.

A glance at Twitter, a story and a call from CNN

Jerrod Knight, KETR

Jerrod was about to head home last Wednesday when something caught his eye on Twitter.

"In there was a tweet from a Tyler T.V. station about a college that closed its doors and furloughed all but 11 employees for a major financial restructuring," Jerrod said in an e-mail. "I just glanced over the story and decided to take the big points and toss up a three- or four-line story."

Jerrod then found a couple of people tweeting about the story and embedded the tweets into his post. In less than 15 minutes, Jerrod published the story to the site and tweeted it out from @KETRRadio.

Just a few minutes later he received a call from CNN, asking if he would do a live spot the following morning in an interview with Soledad O'Brien. Jerrod, keeping in mind that he aggregated the story from other sources, declined the interview and directed CNN to the original reporters.

As he noticed more tweets about the news, Jerrod produced a Storify and embedded it into his original post. The story got three times as many page views as any other story on that day. 

A tip from Twitter, a change in programming

Bill Snyder, WSKG

In an e-mail, Bill explains how Twitter helped him learn the news of the death of a classical musician and how it prompted a change in programming:

"I was on my airshift on Friday when I got the tweet from the Musicology professor at Binghamton University, Paul Schleuse, that Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau had died just short of his 87th birthday. I immediately changed the playlist for the noon hour and programmed a recording of his performance of Robert Schumann's Dichterliebe, accompanied by Vladimir Horowitz."