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Sunday, February 10, 2008

London's Camden Market is on fire: anatomy of a breaking news story

9.30 this morning, NZ time:

News of a big fire in London's Camden Market reaches me on Twitter via a news feed from Netherlands-based BreakingNewsOn. They seemed to be getting information from Sky TV.

By 10am NZ time, the Guardian had a picture and good story up complete with eye witness reports. The Times had a smaller report and was asking readers to send in pictures. The Telegraph and Independent had nothing, nor did the Evening Standard.

By 11am, was running the story and asking New Zealanders living in London to send in pictures. Using a combination of Reuters reports, their own staff and TV coverage,they had a pretty good outline of the story. didn't have anything.

At 11.10am a couple of google searches brought up coverage by BBC, CBC in Canada, AFP, AP TV, Sky, Jerusalem Post (carrying an AP report) and plenty more. Conspiracy theories and other conversations were under way on Yahoo Answers, Neogaff, Suzy's photos and elsewhere.

The BBC, in inimitable style, had a full report, pictures, video of eye witnesses and the scene, links to related sites including the fire service, Camden Council and Camden market, and was asking readers for information, pictures and video. (Shame international viewers have to sit through an insurance ad before the video footage plays, kills the sense of immediacy somewhat).

By 11.45am, Guardian had really fleshed out the story, as had Sky and BBC. Times had added three pictures and NZ Herald one (all agency pics). Telegraph had nothing, Stuff was running Reuters copy and pic, the Independent had PA copy with no picture and the Evening Standard was running a headline on the ticker. TV3 was running APTN copy and video, TVNZ had Reuters copy with no footage.

Notably, search for 'fire', 'camden' and 'london' on YouTube brought up nothing. Am I missing something? No sign of ugc on any of the news sites yet, all agency footage and eye witness commentary gathered by reporters on the scene.