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Andy Carvin’s Twitter ‘open newsgathering operation’

If you work in the social news business, you’re probably already following @acarvin on Twitter. When I first met NPR’s Andy Carvin in person at a session at SXSW (far right below), he was talking and tweeting in short, alternating bursts. Turns out, a Washington Post reporter had the same experience while interviewing him for this story, a great account of his unique form of social journalism and his hectic lifestyle.

Carvin calls himself an “open newsgathering operation” — curating, questioning and cross-sourcing tweets from the unrest in the Middle East and North Africa. At his peak, he tweeted 839 times with an additional 614 retweets in a single day. (Twitter had to whitelist him, because it initially thought he was a spammer.) The Post has put together a great chart mapping Carvin’s tweet volume over the last few weeks.

Some traditionalists criticize Carvin’s open approach to exploring unconfirmed accounts in a public forum — if it’s unconfirmed, why pass it along? But as Carvin has shown, the act of passing it along enables others to prove or disprove it. In today’s social world, journalists aren’t the only fact-checkers and certainly not the only publishers. And Carvin has found a unique way to channel the crowd around a search for truth.

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