Journalists are known to use Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) to both report the news and attract eyeballs for their news stories.  Now a new tool being developed by Twitter and cable news channel CNN is being designed to help journalists identify breaking news on Twitter as it is emerging.

Twitter

In a statement Wednesday, Twitter is developing the “alert system” for journalists and will roll out the fee service later in the year.  “When news breaks, it can be minutes or even hours before newsrooms begin to report,” the statement said. “Now, with the help of CNN and Dataminr News, Twitter can be used to close that critical gap between the eyewitness wanting to be heard and the journalist who wants to listen.”

Twitter has long been a source for breaking news.  Among its seminal developments were news reports on Twitter when a passenger jet crashed on the Hudson River or live tweeting the Osama bin Laden raid over Pakistan. The problem for many journalists is that, unless these tweets were part of their individual news feed, the tweets were missed. Finding valuable news tweets among more than 500 million tweets sent daily can be like finding a needle in a haystack. Dataminr’s tool provides journalists assistance by identifying breaking news and verifiable sources on Twitter, the statement says.

Algorithmic scoring method

The Dataminr system uses an algorithmic scanning method to identify patterns on the internet and match information type with a user’s profile and the presence of other tweets with matching content to determine validity.

The system is just for alerts and does not address issues such as who broke the news or how the news spread, according to a report on Tech Crunch. CNN has been using the system for detecting news and finding eyewitness sources.  Examples included this past weekend’s mall shooting in Maryland, the arrest of Justin Bieber, the crash of a US Navy helicopter, the shooting at Purdue University as well as the recent Beijing-bound flight that had to turn around due to turbulence.

CNN testing prototype

CNN has no financial interest in the product, but is developing the system so it can have “first mover advantage so that their journalists will have a hand shaping the product, have more experience and give them “that human advantage going forward,” KC Estonson, general manager of CNN Digital, said in the report.  “It is very quickly becoming an essential tool,” said CNN Digital Managing Editor Meredith Artley in the report.