Uprising in Egypt. Earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Missile strikes in Libya.
Major news has broken in every corner of the world during the past few weeks. In that time, Matthew Keys has proven himself to be a must follow for the latest from these hot spots.
Keys, 24, is a new style aggregation journalist. From his home in Sacramento, Calif., Keys even altered his sleep schedule so he can be awake to bring the latest developments from Japan.
“What my audience is looking for is somebody who, in a time of crisis, or in a time of breaking news, will just get to the facts,” he said.
Better known as Producer Matthew, Keys worked until October as a Web producer at KTXL, Sacramento’s Fox affiliate and is now unemployed. He considers himself an early adopter to social media, joining Twitter in February 2007. The service arguably began getting mainstream attention during that March’s South by Southwest Interactive Conference.
Keys still considers himself a journalist. Why? Everything he tweets or retweets he ensures comes from a credible source, or it is something he could verify.
“About 90 percent of the information I put out comes from a media source that I can verify with them,” he said.
Keys relies on reporting from global wire services like Reuters and Agence France-Presse, as well as local news services. For information from Japan, Keys has aggregated information from NHK and TBS.
“This is information that I’m putting out for my audience but it’s really coming from a third party,” he said.
While Keys agrees that Twitter is an excellent way to get news, he dismisses the notion that it will become a police scanner.
“Most people can listen to a police scanner and know that about 100 percent of the information that they’re getting from the scanner is going to be accurate, because it’s coming from law enforcement sources,” he said. “If you’re following someone in law enforcement on Twitter, absolutely. But you could also be following an account — like the Steve Jobs account — and if you’re new to Twitter, you’re not gonna know that Steve Jobs doesn’t have a Twitter account.”
“I don’t think it’s ever going to be the main source of news,” he said.
Keys also maintains an active Tumblr presence.
“The use that I have for Tumblr is for photos — a lot of people on Tumblr like photos,” he said. “They’re very visual. They don’t necessarily like to read a lot. They like video. They like audio. It’s very multimedia rich.”
Keys says being a citizen journalist has helped his reputation more than working at KTXL.
“I’ve made friends at ABC, at CNN, CBS, and a lot of the stuff I put out on Twitter … they’re now wanting to use that stuff,” he said. “That never happened when I worked at Fox.”
Follow “Producer Matthew” Keys on Twitter at @ProducerMatthew and on Tumblr at http://producermatthew.com.