I want to be absolutely clear.  I messed up.  I did not think the situation all the way through before I posted a Tweet.  I’m going to explain my line of thinking, but in no way am I excusing anything I did.  I simply want to share it because I learned a valuable lesson that slapped me in the face.  Seriously, my face stung like I had been slapped.


I received a call from another O & O (owned and operated) CBS station asking if I knew anything about a plane that had to make an emergency landing in Denver.  I hadn’t but said I would check into it.  I paged the usual PIOs: airport, fire and airline.  Next I checked Twitter to see if anyone was talking about an emergency landing in Denver.  I didn’t find anything.


Next I sent a Tweet saying (insert city) CBS station had heard of an emergency landing of flight (insert number) and (insert airline).  In the Tweet I said I knew nothing of this and was calling on it.  Within a minute of my Tweet the executive producer of the station that had called me sent me an email, “This is a tip, we're trying to turn as an Exclusive.   We don't call you with tips so you can blast them onto the internet.”


I immediately removed the Tweet from my timeline.  Then I sent a reply. ” You’re absolutely right. I’ve removed the information from my Twitter feed.  I am sorry I didn’t handle this properly.”


I acted as I normally would in my job and for the station.  See the problem?  I didn’t think of the other station’s news strategy and goal.


All of the CBS4 news crews were on the FBI terror probe involving Najibullah Zazi, with the exception of one crew that was working other news of the day.  I knew I wouldn’t divert any crews to cover the emergency landing unless it involved injuries or worse.  There was absolutely no scanner chatter on the incident so I was fairly certain the incident was minor.  (You’d be surprised at how many diverted planes or emergency landings actually happen at DIA.  I listen to a few a week, and I know I don’t hear them all.  All of us on the news desk can tell by the chatter how critical an incident is or isn’t.)


I hadn’t posted the Tweet to give away breaking news.  I’d done it to help me cover the news.  I value Twitter and facebook as powerful and immediate resources and tools.  I knew it was very unlikely I’d send a news crew, but I could still cover it.  Social media allows me to cover the news with the help of those actually there and sharing their experiences instantly on the Internet.  I hoped my Tweet would lead to someone sharing information even pictures or video from the plane or at DIA.


Those who follow me on social media get an inside look at how the newsroom works.  I am very clear in my posts on sources of information and what I or others are doing with the information.  This opens the newsroom up in a unique way that is valued by the news consumer.  In the end, we value each other.


But the tip wasn’t mine.  It wasn’t my information to share on Twitter.  I worked the tip one way while the other station worked it in a completely different way.  I honestly didn’t realize the station was working the tip as an exclusive.  If I had I would have never put it on any social media platform.  Exclusive news strategy is the same for every station!  I understand the reaction of the executive producer.  I agree that I was in error.


I have learned a valuable lesson.  If in the future another station calls me with a tip I will ask if the tip is an exclusive.  Then I will ask if it is okay for me to use Twitter or facebook to work the information.