Friday, December 28, 2007

Interview with Founder of BreakingNewsOn - Michael van Poppel

I chanced upon BreakingNewsOn during one of my trolls on the Twitter public timeline when I first began using Twitter and since then I have been following BreakingNewsOn.. They have been great about breaking the news first. Yesterday I was amazed at their breaking of the Benazir Bhutto Assassination Story and generated a lot of buzz on Twitter. I decided that I should write about them and encourage everyone to follow them. I got in touch with BreakingNewsOn’s founder , 20 year old Michael van Poppel and interviewed him on GTalk.

Shashi: What is BreakingNewsOn ?

Michael: BreakingNewsOn is a "micro-news service" and is specifically aimed at bringing breaking news as soon as possible. I founded BreakingNewsOn on May 20th of this year and its size is growing rapidly. Some more details can also be found at Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BreakingNewsOn .

When you follow us you should be aware that we may send out a large number of updates in a short period as stories rapidly develop from multiple sources

Shashi: Do you have a website?

Michael: At this time we are only active on Twitter but a website is set to be launched before the end of the year. It will be very active and focused on breaking news. When necessary, depending on the size of the story, live streams, email alerts, in-depth details and more will be made available. BreakingNewsOn is able to provide live streams to major international news networks such as MSNBC, CNN, Al Jazeera and others.

Shashi: Do you consider yourself a start-up?

Michael: Yes, BreakingNewsOn is more like a pilot. However, we will continue the Twitter service when the website is online. Off course, when it is launched it will be announced through Twitter.

Shashi: Do you have other Twitter ids?

Michael: BreakingNewsOn is the main twitter id at this time.. Our second Twitter id can be found at http://twitter.com/LivePressAlert . It provides live quotes from major press conferences we are following. (warning: massive number of updates during news events). We do have several other Twitter id's which are in a test phase but will not be continued.

Shashi: How do you gather the news?

Michael: We get information we make public straight from news wires such as the Associated Press, Reuters, AFP and others. Additionally, we gather information from official’s sources like the United States Geological Survey and do our own research. We will contact local officials depending on the urgency of the story. Local news networks also contribute to the news brought by us. Because Twitter allows a maximum of 140 caracters per message, we are often unable to credit the exact source.

What makes BreakingNewsOn different from other news networks is simple. We make the news public as soon as possible. When we get credible details of a breaking story we will immediately make it public and gather additional details. "Normal" news sources do often wait for official confirmation and this makes it a lot slower. The method we use is a risky one though. Sometimes the story turns out to be much smaller than the initial reports suggested.

Shashi: What is the biggest exclusive you have had so far ?

Michael: Our biggest exclusive is a stunning one. On September 7th we exclusively obtained the first Bin Laden tape in years. BreakingNewsOn received the full and unedited video before anyone else. The video was obtained through own research. Details and a screenshot were quickly posted to BreakingNewsOn and it was later sold to Reuters. Within minutes after reaching an agreement with the news organization, the video was made available to television stations across the world. Networks in the United States, UK and others interupted their programs to show the first images which were originally obtained by BreakingNewsOn. The first alert on the Bin Laden tape can be found at http://twitter.com/BreakingNewsOn/statuses/253312392 . Another interesting read can also be found at: http://insidecable.blogsome.com/2007/09/13/cnns-i-report-did-not-respond-to-bin-laden-video-offer-from-web-trawler/ .


Shashi: Do you have a blog ?

Michael: BreakingNewsOn ran a pilot of a website in October/November and was later taken offline. The website was immediately a success and a full news website is due soon.

Shashi: What’s your education background - did you learn journalism or are u a techie. Are you a star trek fan too?

Michael: I did not study journalism but the other editors of BreakingNewsOn have; they work for newspapers and international television stations. Yes, I was a "Trekkie" in the past.

Shashi: Once a star trek fan always a star trek fan
Michael:
Unfortunately, I have little time for movies lately and my interest in the series ran out a long time ago.. In the past I ran a popular website called Sci-Fi Universe which was known to have exclusives on television series.

Shashi: BreakingNewsOn - how does it make money?

Michael: At this time we do not make any money out of it. However, we plan on using some kind of advertisements.

Shashi: Whats your utlimate vision - how do you see this expanding?

Michael: My goal, at this time, is to make the website a success and a credible news source.

Shashi: What do you do for fun?

Michael: Besides BreakingNewsOn I'm always busy - working, school, but I do like to go out with friends as much as I can.

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