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You too can help cover the news. Just join the Wave

Covering breaking news triggers a surge of adrenalin like few other aspects of journalism. Whether it’s a crime, a scandal or a storm, the rush to gather as much information as possible is energizing.

Want to find out? Just stick around a while.

Seattle residents experienced this firsthand recently when the Seattle Times’ online component, seattletimes.com, experimented with Twitter and Google Wave, which the Web site described “an online tool for real-time communication and collaboration,”  to allow residents to participate in the breaking news coverage of a man who shot and killed four police officers.

The Web site explained the experiment utilized a “social stream…imperative to help readers keep up with fast-changing developments.”

Using Google Wave, residents were able to comment on the story real time, and many did. But the conversation, as well as the news, is difficult to follow. Take a look.

Social media columnist Catherine P. Taylor observed that the coverage is a harbinger of change in media coverage. “(T)he Wave does make obvious, though, that editors will be increasingly helpful as arbiters of sorts, helping participants and readers make sense of the stream.”

In other words, editors will feed the public’s desire for information in multiple ways, as they gather information from multiple sources and then stream it out to the public. That’s your two-way dialogue.

Of course, if you are caught up in the news, like Tiger Woods, this dialogue can become a feeding frenzy nightmare.

And you thought you would escape this post without a mention of that PR disaster!

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