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This article was published on August 10, 2011

6 ways to follow, and report, breaking news events online

6 ways to follow, and report, breaking news events online
Martin SFP Bryant
Story by

Martin SFP Bryant


Martin Bryant is founder of Big Revolution, where he helps tech companies refine their proposition and positioning, and develops high-qualit Martin Bryant is founder of Big Revolution, where he helps tech companies refine their proposition and positioning, and develops high-quality, compelling content for them. He previously served in several roles at TNW, including Editor-in-Chief. He left the company in April 2016 for pastures new.

When a big news event is unfolding quickly, it can difficult to keep track of the latest news updates. Here we take a look at ways to keep on top of breaking news, and to cover it yourself.


Well, it has to be in here, doesn’t it? Many people look to Twitter for breaking news now, and there’s lots of it to be found. People often follow hashtags associated with news they’re interested in, but the search results for these tags can sometimes be far too busy to keep up with. Then there’s the problem we noted recently of how difficult it is to tell exactly what is true and what isn’t.

The best ways to circumvent these problems are, firstly, to make a List of the people you trust most in that given situation – are there any journalists on the ground, covering it in real-time? How about individuals who clearly are on the scene or can speak with authority. Paying particular attention to that list during the nven twill help filter out the noise and increase the likelihood that you’re receiving accurate information.

Additionally, avoiding retweeting juicy rumours without verifying them is a must. Just because it sounds plausible doesn’t make it true. Check a trusted source before you pass it on, helping to spread misinformation. The only problem here is that trusted sources can make mistakes too.

Breaking News

Breaking news websites are becoming a genre to themselves online, specialising in getting reports out with speed and accuracy. Breaking News monitors events around the world, publishing new events on its homepage as they occur and giving major developing stories their own pages, curated by editors where credible reports are pulled in from around the Web. Sources include published news reports and tweets.

The MSNBC-owned site employs full-time editors but also takes tips from the public via the Spot It feature. In addition to its website, it offers apps for iPhone, Android and Windows Phone 7, plus the popular Breaking News Twitter account.


Storyful takes a similar approach to Breaking News, but its service offers pictures and video directly in the stream. It employs a full-time team of curators, tracking breaking news events and sourcing accurate reports. However, it also offers a tool that allows you to create your own curated news stories, pulling in tweets, links, images and videos to tell the story as it happens.

Storyful partners with global news organisations, allowing them to publish these curated stories on their own sites. (UPDATE: Storyful has clarified its relationship with third-party news organisations, stating that rather than publish the Storyful stories as-is on their sites, “Our news clients/partners use breaking news content that we verify + get access information for. All happens on private @StoryfulPro channel”.)


Some sites exist as tools for others to use to pull together news stories, without actually generating any content in-house. Storify is a good example of this. Used by journalists and non-journalists alike, it’s almost approaching a blogging platform focuses on curation, with the ability to add text, tweets, images, videos, links and more, creating a multimedia story to share with others via a link, or embed on your own website.

A partnership with Breaking News was announced this week, adding that site as an additional source for users to pull from. A button under every link on the Breaking News site now allows you to send it straight to a new or existing Storify story.


UK-based site Blottr is making a growing name for itself by being fast to cover breaking news stories in Britain. As we’ve previously reported, it allows anyone to cover a story as it breaks via the Web or via its Paparappzi iPhone app.. It’s also offering up its platform to third-party organisations, and in some cases will pay contributors.

Blottr takes a wiki-style approach to news coverage, allowing anyone to not only create a new story, but to edit an exiting one too, adding more information, images or videos.


If you want to do the news breaking yourself, another option is Meporter. This mobile app for iPhone (Android and BlackBerry coming soon) allows you to post a story from wherever you are, including a photo or video. This can then be shared online via Twitter and Facebook, and via the app itself. A Newswise tab, allows you to explore recent stories via pins on a map.

The quality and quantity of the news you find will depend on what usage is like in your area, but it’s worth a look to see what others are sharing nearby. (Thanks to Louise Bolotin).

Are there any we’ve missed? Leave a comment and let us know.

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