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Feb. 26, 2009, 4:26 p.m.

Rocky Mountain News: “It’s strange to cover your own funeral”

The Rocky Mountain News is tweeting its last day of production, and it’s a must-read for anyone who cares about newspapers. It’s also a lesson in the power of realtime narrative journalism. Twitter and live-blogging won’t save journalism; they wouldn’t have saved the Rocky Mountain News. (The paper has dozens of its reporters on Twitter, but most haven’t updated their accounts in months.) Still, read these tweets and tell me that Twitter isn’t a critical tool of our craft.

My boss Josh Benton gave a talk on this subject at last year’s Nieman Narrative Journalism Conference, which you can listen to here and read about here. But for now, just take in the tweets, highlights of which I’ve compiled below. At 12:07 p.m., Mountain Time, the feed made a dramatic transition from its typical role as a news ticker — “Cops nab 4, hunt for 5 who fled from van on I-70,” “Stocks advance as investors bet on banks” — into a chronicle of the newspaper’s final hours:

Lots of people have argued that newspapers should get away from using their Twitter feeds simply as conduits to link to their own stories, and that a more personal, human approach can lead to a bigger and more engaged audience of followers. Obviously, today is an unusual case, but it’s worth noting that the Rocky’s Twitter account has gone from around 60 followers to over 400 in the past few hours.

RMN reporter Daniel Chacon is now tweeting the Scripps press conference on his own account. It occurs to me that I don’t know which reporter is handling the @RMN_Newsroom feed, but I’ll try to find out and update here. In the meantime, all our best to the fine reporters in Denver.

UPDATE, 8:22 p.m.: The most recent tweet from @RMN_Newsroom is signed, “Mike Noe,” who is the paper’s interactive editor.

POSTED     Feb. 26, 2009, 4:26 p.m.
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