When a cupcake shop in Brooklyn was mistakenly listed as an Obambacare enrollment site this October, Wolf Blitzer ran a short segment about it. “It’s a story we first read about on Twitter,” he began.
That’s an introduction that could soon become more common.
CNN announced today that they’ve been working with a startup called Dataminr to build a Twitter tool for news (the same tool that tipped Blitzer off to the cupcake shop story). During the testing period, the news network says, it discovered about two stories each day using the product, and it has attributed Twitter as a source while reporting them.
Executives from CNN and Twitter presented Dataminr as the digital equivalent of a phone tip line. “It makes the critical link between the eyewitness who wants to be heard and the journalist who wants to hear them,” Twitter’s head of news and journalism partnerships, Vivian Schiller, said. The product is designed to surface stories that reporters might not be searching for rather than to track a list or keyword. Each flagged Twitter story includes contextual information such as the story’s speed and momentum, its geographical origin, and the most popular photos that have been associated with it.
Dataminr has previously built Twitter alert products for the finance industry and the public sector. CNN has no financial stake in the news product, but obtained a period of exclusive use in exchange for giving feedback on its development. Dataminr CEO Ted Bailey declined to name a price at which the new tool will be sold, but said it would be available to other news outlets sometime this year.
Twitter has already secured a position as a common source for breaking news. But its ambitions for television are helped every time it becomes a more prominent one.