Rick Sanchez, an anchor/correspondent on CNN who serves as the anchor of the weekend primetime edition of CNN Newsroom, started using Twitter while covering Hurricane Gustav last weekend.
No big planning or learning curve on Rick’s part in starting on Twitter. He registered a Twitter account (here’s Rick’s) and started using the darn thing. Perhaps he got some coaching or encouragement from assistant producers. But Twitter’s less complicated than a fax machine, and lawyers and law firm personnel have even mastered the use of that.
Rick needed two things. One, to gather as many first hand reports on the Hurricane as possible, some from other reporters, but mostly from average folks using Twitter to share their experiences. Such as New Orleans Attorney, Ernie Svenson, who Twittered via his iPhone from his New Orleans condo during the height of the storm and who is now reporting on real life experiences of the struggles of its citizens.
Second, Rick needed to spread the reach of CNN’s coverage of the Hurricane. What better way to get more people watching CNN than to connect with people like me via Twitter, and then have me in turn spread the word of CNN being on Twitter during the storm. I heard of Rick’s being on Twitter via Ernie or Robert Scoble, I’m not sure which.
Rick started using Twitter last Friday, I believe, and by the weekend, his use of Twitter spread like wildfire across the net. As a means of amplifying what Rick was covering, he started following people like me so that we would follow him. Hey, why not follow people who have the inside story on news. I cover news reporting and journalism on this blog. I want to see what he’s reporting on. I’m an amplifier for Rick and CNN.
The outcome of Rick’s use of Twitter? In Rick’s words, ‘Twitter rocks.’
- His Saturday Newsroon show on CNN interfaced with Twitter, Facebook and Myspace was the most watched, highest rated of all newscasts on all networks.
- The Saturday show was the most-watched program of the day for the P25-54 segment with 602,000 average viewers.
- His Sunday CNN Newsroom at 11p was #1 in its time period.
- On Monday CNN debuts a new Twitter show at 3 PM.
Here’s Rick’s comments on Twitter in his words (from my Tweetdeck).
Now instead of us watching you CNN. You’re watching and listening to us. We as citizen journalists using Twitter are making a real connection with CNN and making news together. Rather than CNN blowing off bloggers and lay people using social networking, CNN is joining the discussion in a real way – for the benefit of the public and CNN.
Way to go Rick. And to any others who encouraged and supported Rick.