I’ve made it obvious that I believe traditional media should use social media. I advocate knowing why you’re using social networks, have goals and have strategies to reach those goals. So I find myself a little surprised at the thoughts that went through my head this afternoon. Is it possible to tweet too much?

If you’re giving away your competitive edge, yes you can tweet too much.

When I share what’s happening for me on the news desk and in the newsroom I am always aware that I have to protect the product: the story. I think first, “is what I’m sharing going to give any of our edge away, and if so, is this a big story we care about if we give specific details about process?” From there I decide to tweet or not to tweet.

The station learned of New Life Worship Center fatal van accident in Oregon when the story crossed the Associated Press Wires. I immediately shared the headline and a link to an Oregon newspaper on Twitter. Then I checked the Twitter streams for local media outlets and Oregon outlets. I also did a few word searches to see if I could find anyone talking about the accident. I found a reporter tweeting away as the story unfolded, but he/she just wasn’t sharing publicly released details, he/she was tweeting how the station was covering the story.

I’ve cut out the Twitter identity and links that would direct you to the station Web site. I have no desire to call out an individual. This is just a discussion.


I didn’t even know there were conflicting reports. I told the reporter and producers to double check what information we had on why the group was traveling and where they were headed in Oregon.

I didn’t know there was an Oregon church taking in crash victims. From this I knew their story would include sound from this Pastor. I thought about what we had and what we wanted to tell the story. I told the producers about it. We decided this was not sound we needed for our story as we were already at the house of one of the victims to interview the family.

It was nice to know the competing station had this sound though. Soon we were told of the church in Oregon assisting the victims from the Oregon State Patrol.  Competitively knowing what we had verses what they had, it felt like we had the better interview.

I wondered what else they had, or if the reporter was tweeting it all away. Of course I was hoping for the latter! As of their early newscasts, it seemed the tweets were giving away all they had as I didn’t see anything more in their stories.

The moment we heard of the crash we knew this would be a big story, even a lead story. I knew all the stations would be working to cover it and to find out something the other stations didn’t. I think sharing the information that an Oregon church was assisting the crash victims was a good move. The reporter was sharing new information with his/her followers.

I don’t think I would have shared the interview with the Pastor until it had been posted on our Web site. That interview could have been the competitive edge. While Twitter is an amazing tool, this reporter has only 300 or so followers. I actually find myself asking if sharing the potentially exclusive interview with 300 or so followers was worth it. I checked their Web site, that interview wasn’t in their Web story yet. If we didn’t have our own interview that we felt trumped the Pastor interview, I would have immediately called the Pastor to request our own interview. A bell in my head would have went off, “ding, ding the Pastor already talked to one station, he’d probably talk to us!”

Then I saw this tweet and a whole other kind of bell went off; actually, it was more like a fog horn really.

I am slightly familiar with NLWC and had never once thought of them having any connection with New Life Church in Colorado Springs. If this was true, it would be an interesting tidbit, but I don’t believe we would have made a connection between the two tragedies, which are so different. But, because of this tweet I contacted NLC and was told there was not any connection or affiliation between the two churches.

I just shook my head at this. The information was stated as fact, not as this is what we’re checking. I can’t stress enough that every way you distribute news should be held to the same standards as what you put on the Web or on the air. Just because it’s Twitter doesn’t mean you can put out false information. Mistakes happen. I’ve made them. I try to avoid them at all times but when needed I always follow with a correction.

The reporter sent over a dozen tweets on the van accident. The tweets shared information as it became public knowledge; even tweeted live during a press conference at the church. This is an excellent use of Twitter!

As I’ve said before, being smart is the key to utilizing social networks. Be aware of what you’re sharing and who could see it. If you’re not using social media competitively, then don’t give away your competitive edge.