After struggling mightily with the concept of updating their Web sites more than once a day, newspapers are finally figuring out what cable news networks and all-news radio stations have known for years: There's an audience for constantly updated news. It may not be a huge audience, but it's there--and keeping the news fresh keeps the site looking fresh for every site visitor.
- Twitter, of course, is the current flavor of the month for quick-news junkies, and has been useful for on-the-spot reports–many from onlookers rather than journalists–on fast-moving stories like the Mumbai terror attacks and the recent California wildfires. In my view, Twitter is still a blunt instrument, with a horrible signal-to-noise ratio and a following that may be too insular among newsies (very few "regular" readers know what it is). And it has no visible business model, as Valleywag recently pointed out. But used properly, it's a very interesting reporting and publishing tool for breaking news.
- Philly.com is one of several newspaper sites using a breaking news blog to quickly push stories onto the site. On a developing story, this can be a bit like reading wire-service updates and writethrus, which can be oddly entertaining as the story comes together, not to mention informative and newsy. In any event, it provides rapid updates to the site and keeps things fresh. It would be nice to have more than a simple list of headlines, but it's the right idea. (Oh, and hello, old Philly.com pals: Why is the breaking news blog not clearly labeled or featured on Philly.com's News page?) The Philadelphia Inquirer–part of Philly.com–also has its own Twitter-distributed news feed.
- Politico, on its new Politico44 offshoot that tracks the Obama administration, is publishing brief, Twitter-like dispatches at the top of the page in a space called, for some reason, The Whiteboard. Unfortunately, these news flashes don't seem to be archived anywhere, at least not obviously, so if you don't see them as they pass by, you miss them.