Friday, May 1, 2009

The day BT beat BBC, CNN

Posted by Craig on 5/01/2009
I've said this before, I'll say it again. The purpose of Breaking Tweets is not to "break the news"; there are plenty of sources doing that. The point of the site I put together is to chronicle the biggest news around the world each day and put a Twitter spin on it by personalizing the news through tweets.

Now I've also said that sometimes we break the news anyway based on the nature of the process. We collect tweets, and if can verify them and the story at a point we're comfortable, we run with it.

That happened yesterday, when Breaking Tweets had its biggest ever single day of traffic with more than 6,000 unique hits from 96 countries.

Our story on the apparent attack on the Dutch royal family in Apeldoorn, Netherlands, was posted one hour before BBC reported the news and two hours before CNN. How'd we do it?

22 minutes

Here's what happened -- I was just about ready to go to bed when I got this tweet from @kazitoshi in Singapore: @breakingtweets RT @mrbrown Some person just tried to drive a car to attack Queen Beatrix of Holland! There are pedestrians down!

I immediately searched Twitter for terms like "Queen" and "car," but wasn't turning anything up. I then did a Google search for some context. I found out the Queen was to be in Apeldoorn for a parade. I tried the term "Apeldoorn." Bingo. A tweet.

From there, I tried a number of other terms - in Dutch - to find more tweets from near the scene. In a matter of no time, I had a second account, a third account, a fourth account - this looked like the real thing.

I compiled the tweets, found a local report from confirming the story, and ran with it. The story was posted just 22 minutes after that first tweet. Twenty-two minutes.

First English report

What happened next was overwhelming. I watched the live stats through a service I use called "getclicky" (it's fantastic) and instantaneously saw the traffic numbers skyrocket in seconds. We had 50 visitors, then 100, then 150, then.. 200! Here's a screenshot when it hit 203; it got up to 219 at one point.

Just as interesting as the numbers was where people were coming from, and we were getting most hits from the Netherlands as shown above. It was really exciting, and the numbers remained high for hours. I couldn't go to sleep until about 8 I was running on so much adrenaline.

I noticed the links people were coming to our site from. It turned out, we were appearing all over Dutch forums and the Dutch blogosphere, with many heralding our report as the first in English. I wouldn't doubt it because I did all the work in translating the tweets and the initial local media reports.

Then I realized Sky News got a report up --- with this as part of its main story on its award-winning Web site: "People have been tweeting about the crash, saying the royals saw what happened and were shocked." That's right, they linked to us.

Just a little bit exciting. It's a night I'm sure to not soon forget - the night I beat BBC and CNN to report a story that dominated international headlines the rest of the day.

Oh, and by the way, Poynter wrote an article about us yesterday too. I knew they might do a write-up, but it came as a surprise. Fun timing.

2 comments on "The day BT beat BBC, CNN"

James Stephens said...

I'm telling you, you're on the track to being the global TMZ. Can I buy stock? Seriously. Keep it up.
James @rawdaddio

phantoo on April 12, 2010 at 8:27 AM said...

i really thankful for providing very good information

i used this post at night when i think about my friends and family so i really thankful for providing very good information


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