NPR Backstory: Using twitter to contextualise news

I really liked this story about the NPRbackstory twitter account. The panel at SxSW about newspaper APIs (which NPR was tagged onto) was one of the highlights, filled with promise, and it’s good to hear about a tangible (albeit experimental) use of one of those APIs to begin to contextualise breaking news.

All too often we lack the memory or the back-knowledge to appropriately interpret the stories that dominate the news (I was a little surprised and disappointed that the BBC stories about Khamnei’s comments on Britain didn’t note that “blame the British” is a common off-hand comment in Iran). News organisations often have vast resources that could help us develop some of that back-knowledge but they’re under-utilised. It’s rarely helpfully presented by web-based news outlets, but for a radio station it’s particularly hard to get that out. Twitter provides a nice way of passing on some tidbits and it’s great that NPR are using it for more than driving traffic to their very latest content.

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