I was working a Sunday night cops reporting shift when suddenly the building started shaking. A normal Sunday shift turned into a quake shift. While the building kept shaking I tweeted this: “Wow – #earthquake felt here in Santa Ana at the Register. Still feel it movin. Details to come.” Once the shaking stopped, I sent another tweet linking to the USGS quake information page and sent a text message to the breaking news SMS subscribers. I sent more tweets – retweeting others’ tweets and asking for damage information, personal stories and user-generated content. In some cases, I found user content on Twitter and asked if we could use it. I sent this tweet asking for us to use a video of pool water splashing during the quake — the same video you see that we were able to embed in this main quake story.
Without Twitter and people geotagging their tweets via mobile devices — my coverage would have been 25 percent as valuable. I was able to round-up tweets about the quake – specific to Orange County.
My favorite piece of reporting was my round up linked above and titled “O.C. residents roll with the quake.” The quake did little to no damage in Orange County, but it still created interesting stories. Editors were asking me to go drive around the county and look for stories. I was able to prove with this round-up of four stories that Twitter is a more effective tool (in some cases) than driving around and looking for stuff.