How breaking news teams beat the competition in a post-COVID world

By Jared Thompson | April 27, 2021

Don’t wait to send a crew; have a plan that works any time, anywhere

  • Using Blinder, you can record a call -- video and audio -- with isolated and compiled tracks.
  • No app is required and Blinder works on any connected device. 
  • Record high-definition video tracks in rooms of up to four participants.
  • Organizations like Stuff, Discovery, and SKY save hours with Blinder.

Being first matters in news. So why do media organizations lag behind the times in connecting with sources of breaking news? Technology has provided us means to instantly connect with nearly anyone else in the world.

On Halloween morning I was out to do some shopping. I pulled into the Target parking lot to a peculiar sight. All the employees and customers were outside surrounding the entire perimeter of the building. Three police cruisers were stationed in front of the main doors. Clearly, what was unfolding was an immediate emergency.

Foot stayed on the throttle. I bailed -- not interested in getting caught up in any unfortunate events or the upcoming congestion. Curious to find out what happened, I turned to the world’s most trusted source of news (sarcasm), Twitter. A quick search of my city “Henderson” and “Target” provided some clarity.


A local TV affiliate altered to a road rage incident as the cause of the problem, but that didn’t explain much. With social media and cameras at everyone’s fingertips, I knew I could find a detailed account before seeing what a FOX crew might broadcast on TV or publish on the internet.

It took about a second to find an eyewitness.


Breaking news develops quickly, and credible sources are critical to applying facts to the story. Delivering context to the opening moments of a breaking story sets the tone for future reporting. Being the first to report accurate, illustrative information adds to your credibility for that story and beyond. Delaying that action puts you in the same class as news aggregators, regardless of how your team covered the story.

FOX had the chance to interact directly with an eyewitness to breaking news. Instead, they delayed action by sending a physical crew and missed a chance to lead the cycle. Who wants to stick around 30 minutes to wait for a news crew to set up and record a few seconds of soundbites?

Don’t wait to send a crew.

No one has needed to send a crew first since 2007. (Just ask the folks at Mojo Manual.) Nearly every person walking the streets is a camera crew who can take direction to provide timely, articulate information through their phone.

Consider how The Denver Post covered a 2012 movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado:


“The Post dedicated a team to monitoring social media in the wake of the shooting. But it also used social media in three ways: to get information to the public, build stories and find sources. The newsroom posted entries to social media and compiled reporter and photographer tweets of verified facts. Reporters used Twitter and Facebook to find people who were in the theater. That let the Post obtain material, including raw phone video taken by people running from the theater after the shooting.”

- from Poynter: Learning from prize-winning journalism: How to cover a breaking news story

"Speed is the essence of news. And Blinder gives us speed."


- Tom Bartlett, Head of Sport, Discovery Newshub

Nearly a decade ago, The Post was using personal cell phone video to add context to news. Today, reporting via social media easily goes one step further by gaining point-of-view insight through video calls with witnesses.

Reconsider how the FOX station might have approached the road-rage incident at Target. Instead of missing out on interviews with key witnesses, they easily could expand on their social media crawling by sending links to join video calls, such as those through Blinder. This practice provides several benefits to the interviewer and interviewee.

  • They don’t have to wait for a news crew to arrive, allowing for insight that might otherwise be 30 minutes (or longer) from reporting
  • They can choose to do the interview in an environment that sets the scene or one that is more comfortable
  • The reporter and interviewee don’t have to be in the same space (in a COVID world, this adds to the safety of those involved.)
  • They can take a call on their own device, so they have expertise on how to use it
  • A video call can be put through to air live, whereas not every news crew is equipped to do so

The moral of the story: be first in news, or be an afterthought. Today’s technology provides an opportunity for journalists of all types to connect with nearly anyone, anywhere, at any time. Blinder is the fastest way to connect yourself or others to more than 5 billion smartphone users.