My first purchase after monetizing this blog will be a radio scanner (or maybe an iphone if somebody makes an app like that) but until then gut intuition and luck work pretty well.
On Monday I decided to up pick my 4-year-old at preschool a little early, so I'm driving though town center at 11:30 AM and instantly spot two marked cruisers near the bank, but the unmarked car behind one of them tipped me instantly. Why would the chief (who usually walks uptown to get his coffee at The Black Sheep) drive his car to Bank of America, less than 1,000 yards from the police station? Obviously he was in a hurry.
So I double park, snap a couple pictures grab my daughter, speed home, compose a short twitter-like lead and post the breaking news story first (with photos).
Yesterday I go to the APD blog at 12:44 PM and spot the breaking news, stop-the-presses information they had just that minute uploaded about capturing the second perp in the Great Town Center Bank Caper.
So I again compose a twitter-like lead, create a hot link to their timely post and update my post at 12:45 PM, then quickly send a link to my friends at the Gazette, Republican, and Ch 22 TV. Then wait...and watch. As Commander Spock would say, "fascinating."
Ch 22 was first to post online the hot story around 1:05 PM, the Springfield Republican second at 1:20 PM and the Gazette third about five minutes later. But not one of them credited the Amherst Police blog as the source of information.
I also sent the link to my friend Mary Serreze who owns the hyperlocal news site Northampton Media and she instantly published the link under the headline "Amherst Police Department Blog: 2nd Arrest Made in Bank Robbery
Journalists should always "consider the source" when gathering information; but it should not matter in the least the means by which that information is disseminated. And for the understaffed police department it's a lot easier to publish a press release on their blog rather than individually field phone calls, emails, and in-person requests for interviews from multiple media outlets.
The Internet is the most powerful journalistic tool to come along since the invention of the printing press. Embrace it!