Craig Kanalley began 2009 with a Twitter project in mind. He was starting Breaking Tweets, a journalistic enterprise that incorporates Twitter. BreakingTweets.com is a Web site that publishes edited and organized news from Twitter. It is associated with the account Twitter.com/breakingtweets, but it takes Twitter messages to a new level. The site has just added Breaking Tweets Entertainment and Breaking Tweets Sports, and will soon add Breaking Tweets Chicago.
Kanalley brings organization to the multitude of Tweets. The aim of Breaking Tweets is to render “hyperlocal gone global,” by organizing the scattershot universe of all Tweets into comprehensible topics about specific places, times, and reaction to news events. Instead of doing this via robots and automation, Breaking Tweets has human editors who manually select messages for inclusion in their stories. Furthermore, the editors treat the Tweets like quotes, weaving the 140 character missives into a comprehensive story on a news topic.
From a “virtual newsroom,” the team keeps connected via e-mail and online. For each story, the editor leads off with a Tweet from an authoritative media outlet to lay out the basic news and provide a link to more extensive information. This is followed by a collection of Tweets that are local to the story, which the editor frames for the reader (see illustration below).
BreakingTweets.com allows you to scan the news and Twitter all at once. The aim is not so much to be on top of breaking news, but to chronicle “key news events each day, creating an archive of these events and what people are saying about them on Twitter,” according to the site. Breaking Tweets is neat and easy to follow.
Kanalley is a graduate student at DePaul University in Chicago. He’s online editor of DePaulia, the student newspaper and a content producer/blogger for WindyCitizen.com, a Chicago news aggregation site. Breaking Tweets editors include dozens of students from DePaul and across the country. David Mac Dougall, a freelance reporter who has worked for AP and Fox News, is also a contributor to the site.