I remember working in New York as part of a news team covering the mortgage space during the historic refinance boom in the early years of this century.
Working in that bullpen was electric. When news would break in one corner of the office, you could watch it travel over the cube walls as it made it's way across the room.
In the far corner of the room, a row of television monitors hung close to the ceiling, giving us a window into the coverage provided by the cable news programs. Of course, their content was a bit different back in those days.
Today, I wouldn't consider putting the cable news networks up in my office. In the rare instances when they do report news (instead of making news through creative editing of recent political speeches), they're not the first to carry the story. The stories we see on TV today have already broken on the Web.
This publication was originally a blog, before the publisher wisely bowed to advertiser pressure to create a new print publication. Paul Jackson routinely broke news here, and his reporters and editors are doing the same thing today. The print publication, which I'm proud to say carries my work, is not about breaking news but rather about going in depth into the stories that really matter in our industry.
Except for getting on the phone with trusted sources, which is still hands-down the best way to break news, the industry does it in a new way now. Today, if you want to know the very latest word on the street, you need to tweet, or at least monitor them.
I've been using Twitter for some time now and I've found it to be a very valuable resource for researching industry trends. Until recently, I didn't spend much time watching the tweet stream for recent news, but new tools are making that easier to do.
For instance, I recently downloaded Tweetdeck for the desktop and now I can open up a full screen view into Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. I can see all of the recent activity in all of my key social media platforms. While I don't monitor it constantly, I am considering getting a few iPads, downloading Tweetdeck for iPad and nailing them to walls around the office, one by the water cooler, one in the breakroom. I don't think there's currently a better way to know what's going on.
What does this suggest for companies operating in the space? If you ever hope to break news, you better figure out how to package it for delivery in 140 characters or less. Social media should be part of the distribution plan for all company news and someone in the firm should routinely monitor these channels for feedback. Obviously, having a company branded blog where those conversations could take place would be quite helpful.
Contact me if you need a list of HousingWire
reporters and editors who are already on Twitter. It's a great place to start.
Rick Grant is veteran journalist covering mortgage technology and the financial industry.
Follow him on Twitter: @NYRickGrant