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Suw Charman-Anderson

Suw Charman-Anderson

Suw Charman-Anderson is a social software consultant and writer who specialises in the use of blogs and wikis behind the firewall. With a background in journalism, publishing and web design, Suw is now one of the UK’s best known bloggers, frequently speaking at conferences and seminars.

Her personal blog is Chocolate and Vodka, and yes, she’s married to Kevin.

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Kevin Anderson

Kevin Anderson

Kevin Anderson is a freelance journalist and digital strategist with more than a decade of experience with the BBC and the Guardian. He has been a digital journalist since 1996 with experience in radio, television, print and the web. As a journalist, he uses blogs, social networks, Web 2.0 tools and mobile technology to break news, to engage with audiences and tell the story behind the headlines in multiple media and on multiple platforms.

From 2009-2010, he was the digital research editor at The Guardian where he focused on evaluating and adapting digital innovations to support The Guardian’s world-class journalism. He joined The Guardian in September 2006 as their first blogs editor after 8 years with the BBC working across the web, television and radio. He joined the BBC in 1998 to become their first online journalist outside of the UK, working as the Washington correspondent for

And, yes, he’s married to Suw.

E-mail Kevin.

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Friday, November 23rd, 2007

Newspapers can break news again

Posted by Kevin Anderson

Steve Outing highlighted on Poynter’s E-Media Tidbits how useful Twitter can be during breaking news. Sending out short burst updates during a breaking news event can keep journalists in the field and close to the story while quickly filing updates that can easily be pulled via RSS into your site. He wrote:

In the not-so-distant past, I would have urged you to create a breaking-news blog for your news site if any big story like those hit in your backyard. …That’s so 2004! You can still do it, and probably should. But the breaking-news blog is about to be supplanted (or perhaps supplemented is a better word) by the Twitter breaking-news feed.

I don’t think it’s an either/or proposition. Twitter can be a good resource to reach your audience via SMS and even desktop alerts if you encourage your subscribers to follow breaking news ‘tweets’ via applications like Twitterific. But you can easily pull that into a blog via an RSS feed, and really, in the age of networked journalism, it’s about your site being a hub in the network to disseminate news. Journalists back at base can tap into the network for leads, pictures and first person reports.

I’ll give you an example from last week when we looked out our window here on the fifth floor of the Guardian and saw black smoke billowing from somewhere in east London. noted the pace of updates across several different sites and services, including Twitter, Flickr and the Guardian’s Newsblog:

The first tweet saw on the fire came from the Guardian’s head of blogging Kevin Anderson shortly before 12:30pm. Anderson has also posted pictures to Flickr and at 12:45pm posted an entry on the events to his Guardian blog.

I also did a quick post here on Strange Attractor. A commenter from Washington DC found the post and said:

Greetings from Washington D.C. Getting reports here that it is an industrial site. Stock futures markets moving up after intial shock. Looks ugly but, industrial chemical fires usually are. Yours was the first blog I came across that had the story. Who needs cables news? Will be watching to see how story develops. Thanks for posting


I was able to post faster and with more pictures and information than Sky and the BBC, which we were watching in the office. Flickr users noted that they were seeing more pictures on the site than on traditional news sites and TV channels. I also used Technorati to find video posted to YouTube before Sky had its helicopter on the scene. People were also posting links in the comments on the Guardian Newsblog.

Since the advent of radio and television, newspapers have been pushed out of the breaking news business. News is frozen at the time you have to go to press. Web-first has only slowly been embraced by newspapers and newspaper journalists.

I do sometimes find that newspaper journalists suddenly pushed into the 24/7 news cycle can feel that quality suffers as one daily deadline becomes a rolling deadline. But the internet does both immediacy as well as depth as Paul Bradshaw recently highlighted in the first of his 21st Century Journalism series of posts.

The strengths of the online medium are essentially twofold, and contradictory: speed, and depth.

And Paul’s ‘News Diamond’ shows how a story passes from speed to user control. It’s a great series of posts, and Paul’s thinking has brought together some brilliant ideas. Ideas that I’ll use the next time I’m blogging breaking news.

I was sitting in the office, which is a role for a networked journalist to play pulling together a news organisation’s own coverage while also aggregating the best of crowdsourced content. But I think there is also a role for field journalists to use Twitter, blogging software or other forms of flexible field filing to break news. Blogging was liberating for me as a journalist if for no other reason as a field journalist, it gave me a much easier way to file than using traditional content management systems that are made to work in the office but are unusable in the field. Until traditional CMSes provide that kind of flexibility, they will have significant drawbacks when compared to blogging platforms. But that’s another post for later.

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One Response to “Newspapers can break news again”

  1. raigne Says:

    Connecting dots imagining /wondering - an opportunity for sane policies
    By Donnaca Raigne - Feb 12th, 2008 at 12:04 pm EST

    I’m excited by what Barak brings to the table.
    I hope ladies who are bent on casting their vote(s) for Hillary Clinton
    think long and hard with
    what is at stake.
    Hillary and McCain are not the caliber to interact with persons world
    wide. More of ther same.

    <> Being bought persons they offer no change but much of the same.
    Sorry. Hillary hubby’s pardoningof Marc Rich and Lieberman’s guiding
    angry McCain as like a wheelbarrow.

    <>An Obama presidency would excite peoples everywhere in a belief that
    the USA was once
    again on a path striving to be the hope of mankind. To have such a
    talented human rise up to
    become leader of the free world - what a message to send to one and all.
    Were he to pick Ms Clinton as VP then we would have :) two black
    presidents in the WH. I wonder if he could deal with Bill wondering if
    he would tarnish the surroundings as like previously being the case.

    <>Sharpton (T Brolly fame) Jackson (Jesse) diminished - Obama toppings all.
    Whiners of such hues would be quited and their brethern left feeling
    that prideful respectability from such presidency - akin to hose whom
    John F. Kennedy gave pride and making people of his ancestry proud.
    With 85% of the world’s people being non white
    what a signal to send to friend and foe alike. No more excuses but
    being obliged to get on with it.
    Son of an an enslaved people rising up within a short number of years -
    a miracle I hope for. An America reborn for greatness renewed. Not
    serving the interests of those powerful sqeeky wheel lobbyists who
    drain us dry by having to protect their specialized statelet through
    wars and the loss of our youthful blood along with our brainwashed
    mouthings, ala Pavlov’s dogs - in the process.
    <> Just pray that Obama stays true and not stray - somehow I feel his
    passion to do right. After some years having passed of insanity I’m
    daring to hope.