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Breaking News From Twitter: There's Breaking News on Twitter

A Twitter-blessed project from Dataminr and CNN aims to surface more news out of Twitter.

Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

News today from Twitter: Twitter would like to provide more of your news.

That’s the upshot of a press event in New York today, where Twitter, CNN and Dataminr, a Twitter-blessed data company, announced a new tool designed to help journalists find news on Twitter.

There are a bunch of companies that already do this — starting with Twitter itself — but the folks involved swear that “Dataminr for News” is much more sophisticated. CNN has been using the tool for some time, and Dataminr says it will be available to other news outlets this year.

Twitter has licensed its data to Dataminr for a few years, but doesn’t have a direct hand in the product. But it still sent COO Ali Rowghani out in front of reporters to signal its support for the project, along with Vivian Schiller, its newly appointed liaison to news outlets.

And why not? The best-case scenario for Twitter is that lots of news organizations end up using the service, and referencing Twitter when they do. That’s free promotion for Twitter, which could use more promotion, since the service is well known by everyone you know, but not that widely in the rest of the world.

And if it doesn’t work, you won’t hear about it anyway, unless you spend time reading about the way news organizations use social media to source their stories and zzzz… oh, sorry.

Sourcing stuff from social media and amateur reporters isn’t new to CNN, which used to feature a segment where an anchor read blogs aloud while a camera panned over a computer screen. More significantly, CNN has tried crowdsourcing news via its iReport program, for better and worse.

CNN says its version of Dataminr for News is already generating two stories a day. They said the product gave them an early tip on a recent shooting at a Maryland mall, when an EMS worker tweeted about the event.

It’s entirely possible that your mileage may vary. There are some well-known examples of people actually “breaking” news on Twitter, sometimes unwittingly. But quite often I find that Twitter is a great place to find people talking about news that other people have reported, and not very good for finding … news.

Maybe that will change after I play with Dataminr later this year. The company says it will start selling it to other news organizations (and, presumably, anyone who wants to pay for it), but hasn’t announced pricing.

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