I don’t know how Scoble does it. He follows over 103,000 people on Twitter and somehow manages to filter everything out to actually break news. I know he’s a big fan of using FriendFeed to filter through it all, but come on! How does FriendFeed help you break the news of a Chinese earthquake from a bunch of random people in China?!?! How would you pick up on that before CNN does if you have to sort through 103,000 other people’s tweets about ice cream and the crappy service they got at TJ Maxx?
Scoble is not just some person trying to be internet famous. I did think that at first. The guy is just completely obsessed with tools that help you obtain, filter, and then broadcast information. It’s not about being famous for him–he’s working on the small project of knowing everything everywhere all the time. Maybe military scientists will implant a MacBook Pro with wifi into his head which will push him to become an XMen character or something. But I digress.
So reporters obviously dropped the ball when reports of election fraud in Iran broke on Twitter well before they were covered on CNN (see #cnnfail). Scoble and Mark Hopkins were on it pretty quickly and were pumping out some really good stuff as things unfolded. Why couldn’t the reporters do this? Why are newspapers not empowering their journalists with this information and these tools? Do they not see information as their big competitive advantage over all the other noise we see in day to day life?
The flaw with newspapers is not that they aren’t free. On the contrary, I can go to any newspaper’s website and find all the info I need for nothing. The problem is that they just aren’t as relevant as they used to be. Journalists rarely have long-term specialties and are often ill equipped in today’s modern world. Why can’t newspapers upgrade to be Scobleistic organizations of people thriving on breaking information, tracking information, etc? Forget being threatened by new media–why do they not have the same intellectual curiosity to use it just by their very nature? Isn’t that their job?
In newspapers’ defense, this is usually a decision made by the top. I have met journalists who are very much into using the latest and greatest tools to get the job done. But why aren’t the higher-ups giving their people iPhone 3Gs and computers with Aircards? Don’t they want to deliver the freshest and most accurate news possible?
So if you run a newspaper, hire Robert Scoble as a consultant to teach you how to actually report news in a modern world. Or go away. If your news is that good, you could even (gasp) charge for it. Just don’t tell Chris Anderson that.