Tools that most journalists take for granted can pay off for their news organizations on stories big and small. Dave Schultz, assistant editor of the the Bluffton (Indiana) News-Banner, was reminded of that last Thursday when he got an email tip that a local retired teacher had been on national TV.
Schultz first went online to confirm the story: sure enough, a woman from Bluffton (population 28,000) had indeed been one of two people chosen at random for that morning’s Today Show “Ambush Makeover.” After watching the NBC video online, Schultz asked reporter Jerry Battiste to help him contact the woman and her husband.
Battiste naturally turned to social media to try to find them. Here’s his Twitter post:
We are searching for Dan and Karen York, Bluffton. She was on the Today Show this a.m. getting a makeover…how cool for her! need a cell #
As Schultz tells the story in a recent column, it only took about 20 minutes for someone to provide the number he needed and he was able to reach the couple in New York via cell phone.
So let’s review: an e-mail, a Web site visit, the viewing of an online video (which we posted on our “On The Beat” blog on our Web site), the use of social media (Facebook and Twitter) as a way to get information, a response, and a cell phone call…Would any of these things have been available to us in 1989? Not at all. Not an e-mail. Not a Web site visit. Not Facebook or Twitter. Not a cell phone call.
Okay, so the story itself wasn’t that big a deal. But Schultz says he stands amazed at how quickly they were able to confirm, report and file an online exclusive.