A Twitter trial

Reporter Ron Sylvester at the Wichita Eagle Beacon is live Twittering a trial.

The Twitter trial seems to be working.  So far.

It’s a modification of what we began last fall: live updates of a capital murder trial in the killing of a small-town Kansas sheriff. It was a way of live blogging from the courtroom.  I would email updates from my smartphone and Bluetooth keyboard and send them back to the online team at the newsroom.  They would post them with time stamps.

Readers enjoyed it, but the workflow lagged at times.  The copy desk during the day is sparse, usually one person posting all the updates throughout the day. Metro editors were in meetings all day. I was filing faster than the posts were appearing.  That was a snag we were going to have to work out.

This spring, as another big trial loomed, the copy desk said they couldn’t handle another round of live blogging.  People are going on vacation.  We’re short-staffed. There was no time to sort through my updates each hour.

Enter Twitter, the micro-blogging service that allows users to make 140-characters postings.

The American Bar Association has noticed with a longish piece.

More from Howard Weaver and Mindy McAdams.

I think there’s a lot more potential for efforts like Sylvester’s.