I’m still finding my voice on Twitter. The only thing I’m sure of is that I won’t be tweeting my breakfast menu or misadventures on public transportation. So far I have also shied away from the Confucian pearls of wisdom and random thoughts about the state of the world or my failures at fatherhood. My tweets are mostly linked to news that’s breaking, both in the rest of the world and this much smaller universe of the Transformation of the Business of Information.
Based in Europe, and with the majority of my followed-and-followers in the US, I have found that my geography and language skills may help me to get some breaking news into the Twitter river ahead of the crowd. And so there I was the other morning, about to re-Tweet some bit of France news (don’t remember what?), when another interesting story popped up…and I thought: Hmmm? Let me try to squeeze these two together into one tweet. But with 140 characters to work with…good luck!? So I put the two links aside into a Word document…and then it HIT! me: Why not expand the 2 links into, say, 5…and bundle it into a TOP HEADLINES FROM JEFF post. I could put it up on this site, and link to it once a day. At the very least it would be a good workout at world news story selection, which will be key to the website I am trying to launch. But then it HIT! me…again! If timing is everything, that’s doubly true on the real-time web, which is creating new niches in the ways and whens of how we consume information. I should exploit my Time Zone advantage and News Biz Experience, I told myself, and deliver a story list at around 7 a.m. Eastern time composed solely of news that has broken since 11 p.m. It will necessarily be different than wire service roundups and website Top Stories, which tend to always include plenty of reports of what was already known before the plugged-in news junkies logged off and went to bed. Instead, I would focus on stories that broke after Americans went to bed….which has become While U Slept.
This daily a.m. story list, which I have begun to post here and also at whileUslept.wordpress.com, is geared exclusively toward a hyper-plugged-in U.S. readership and will be composed of aggregated links. (My website project will be different/more) In the first few days so far, it has included a mix of news happening in the first part of the day in Asia and Europe, and late at night in North America, as well as a few exclusive scoops coming out in US publications.
So well before I’ve launched the actual project I have in mind, I already have a related product of sorts. Again, it is a no-lose situation, allowing me to jump straight into story selection, headline writing and the like. (I am happy to report that it comes rather naturally after 18 years as a reporter…and is damned fun!) But my next trick – to be addressed in an upcoming post — is to see if I can actually begin to build an audience…before I’ve even built my website!?