Here’s what I want: some notification system for important news. I am not chained to the grid of mainstream news and that’s a conversation for another time, but if someone rolls up and says “woo hoo, America elected a black president” I want to not be all “what-lected a black presi-what?”
I believe in the business they call it breaking news. I also think that they might define breaking news as “anything happening on cable right now”, as searching for “breaking news” on Google brings up every cable news organization in the country.
Funny story: @cnnbrk actually used to be somewhat good at this. Then, honest to God, someone at CNN found out. Go, see what they post there. Wouldn’t you be mad if you got two text messages because they didn’t include their self-promoting URL the first time through? If they’re only going to cover important stories, with no unnecessary interruptions, isn’t some of that stuff profoundly inessential?
Anyway, I’m generally finding that @WCCOBreaking fits my peculiarities better than @CNNbrk now. But it’s still a terrible fit. What I’d like is to get mobile alerts for important things, but since that seems to be hard, let’s review a couple of things I need out of this service.
- Positively configurable for time of day. It’s possible to set Twitter up to instantly text you when selected accounts update, but they wisely allow you to set a window that it’s okay to update, and never text you outside of that window.
- Never update breaking news. Not for new body counts, not for a delay, not for late-breaking election returns, not because the president has finally and predictably chimed in. Your first breaking news alert says “whoa – turn on a TV” or “seriously, it might be a good idea to come to the website”, not “stay tuned” and certainly not “prepare yourselves to become interrupt-driven news consumers”.
- I don’t care if you mistyped your URL. Do not send another update.
- While we’re on URLs, and this might just be me, but Twitter is semi-sort of designed for mobile devices. Most of them don’t play Flash video on websites, and if they do, it’s YouTube or nothing. Just saying. Linking me to a Flash-based video page is bad.
- Speaking of videos, do not self-promote. I got this Palin-related update last week. Go ahead. Check it out. Mixed in with the news is a “Bombshell!” about the ex-VP-candidate’s daughter’s ex-boyfriend’s media tour. Early Show exclusive! But certainly not news, and not breaking news. Oh, I was mad about this one. While I think most of us understand that network news is propped up by the entertainment on those same networks, don’t rub our noses in the fact that you occasionally have to repay the favor. It’s hard to imagine a non-CBS outlet pushing the Letterman story in quite the same way as WCCO did. (@CNNbrk left it completely alone.)
- Please be right. WCCO (in their 12 Fort Hood updates) wrote that there were shots, no Minnesotans were involved (as if that mattered), that one shooter was dead with others in custody, that the suspect (now singular) had been identified, that he wasn’t dead, and that there actually was a Minnesotan in the injured. Now, nobody expects you to debunk balloon-boy shenanigans mid-shenanigan, and God knows there’s a push to get the scoop, but with only 140 characters and a commitment to saying relatively little relatively infrequently, it’s really important to not be way off base.
- I’m going to gently put forth that you don’t get hash tags. CNN signs everything “#cnn”. You know who else (besides CNN) uses the #cnn hashtag? People who are talking about CNN. I don’t even know why they occasionally slip into “#newcnn”. And while I actually appreciate a shortened URL to a news story, ending every update with “http://www.cnn.com” is dumb. You’re CNN. We know what your URL is.
Now I’m just picking on them. But this isn’t hard. I’m not asking you to adapt to my news preferences (more NFL, less NHL, yes Britney, no Paris), but just respect the fact that I’m letting you interrupt me. When the phone dings, I pick it up. Make this work for both of us.