CNN is hosting a press event today to announce a partnership with Twitter and social analytics company Dataminr, resulting in a new tool called Dataminr For News.
Dataminr CEO Ted Bailey said the goal is to “alert journalists to information that’s emerging on Twitter in real time.” Basically, the technology looks at tweets and finds patterns that can reveal breaking news when it’s still in its “infancy.” Those alerts can be delivered in a variety of ways, including via desktop applications, email, mobile alerts, and pop-up alerts.
The program, which was piloted with CNN, isn’t just for alerts, Bailey added. He said it also offers analytics data around who broke the news and how it spread. He also said that it doesn’t just have to be for breaking news, but for finding interesting features, as well.
The CNN team cited a few examples of how they’ve used Dataminr for News already — they said it helped them spot stories or find eyewitness sources in the past weekend’s mall shooting, in the recent Beijing-bound flight that had to turn around due to turbulence, and in the story of a Brooklyn cupcake shop that was bombarded with Obamacare-related calls.
“It is very quickly becoming an essential tool,” said CNN Digital Managing Editor Meredith Artley.
Asked how the product can distinguish between accurate news and hoaxes, Bailey noted that Dataminr for News looks at “after the first tweet information” to assess accuracy based on factors like whether there are “corroborating sources on the ground” and whether there are different “initial nodes” spreading the news. That won’t guarantee accuracy, but he said it will allow journalists to “move up that confidence curve.”
Bailey added that Dataminr for News will be available to all journalists on a yet-to-be-announced date later this year, at a yet-to-be-announced price.
KC Estenson, the general manager of CNN Digital, clarified that CNN has no financial interest in Dataminr and no commercial interest in the product. Basically, the company reached an agreement for exclusive, early access to the product, but when it launches more broadly later this year, CNN will just become another customer.
As for why CNN has been working on a product that will then be sold to its competitors, Estenson said, “There’s no such thing as permanent exclusivity … there is such a thing as first mover advantage.” CNN will have an edge in using Dataminr for News because team members have had a hand in shaping the product and they’ll have more experience with it, giving them “that human advantage going forward.”