How To Use Google+ For Breaking News

Google+ is the newest social media network on the block and, as we chronicled last week, there’s a lot of innovative ways it can help a reporter with their individual beat. But what about when it comes to breaking news, when the whole news team is helping cover a story?

Twitter and Facebook are well established as invaluable tools when it comes to sharing news at a moment’s notice but Google+ has gone untested — until last week. While covering an apartment shooting, the staff at the New Jersey-based paper the Trentonian was able to land a key source and very important information through Google+.

“Google+ is what gave us, and no one else, the key information,” said Joey Kulkin, the paper’s interim editor, said in an email to Steve Buttry, director of community engagement and social media at the Journal Register Co., who blogged about the Trentonian’s coverage of the shooting.

More specifically, a reader saw the paper’s breaking news link on Google+ and responded she thought the victim of the apartment shooting was her cousin. After maintaining frequent contact with the woman, Kulkin was able to confirm the identity of the victim. At the time, that information wasn’t publicly available from more typical sources, like the police, or from less traditional sources, such as Facebook.

“G+ was the first place to deliver a great lede, ahead of Twitter and Facebook,” Kulkin said in an email to me.

I highly recommend you check out Buttry’s Storify account of the issue. It demonstrates how a paper can best serve its community by using all of the tools at hand — not just some of them.  Funny enough, Kulkin said Google actually deleted the Trentonian’s account shortly after the shooting coverage. They now have a new profile up.

“Sure, it is our first instinct to tweet something the moment it happens — Facebook, too — but I think G+ can pervade our instincts to deliver breaking news,” Kulkin said in his email. “For me now, it’s Twitter/Facebook/G+.”

Does your news organization have a Google+ account? How have you used it to cover news, breaking or otherwise? Let us know in the comments section below.