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Twitter debuted in 2007. In 2011 it was the place where news of the death of Osama bin Laden, the biggest story in America since the events of 9/11, broke. In just four short years, Twitter has grown from a microscopic start up to an indispensable tool for journalists the world over. We’re lucky enough to have a news outlet here in Mid-Missouri that is not only on the forefront of the fusing of journalism and social media; but is viewed as a leader in it.KOMU quickly embraced Twitter; and more recently has been on the cutting edge of the use of Google+ for journalism. In fact, they’re so far out in front that Mashable recently featured them (and a congratulations is certainly in order for that.) Interactive Anchor Sarah Hill and Interactive Director Jen Reeves are shaping the future of how journalists will use G+ and other social media tools. We talked with Sarah about how she sees Google+ changing the game for journalists. She sees the biggest advantage in the Hangout feature:

I see a huge benefit for user generated content and citizen journalism when Hangout becomes mobile enabled.  Had KOMU had a G+ mobile Hangout in Joplin for example, immediately after the storm, we could have invited a multitude of people to share emergency information and talk about the destruction they’re seeing in their own backyards.  It takes a while to get a microwave live remote camera set up or even a satellite window booked. With G+, you can go “live” instantly.

That is simply a brilliant use of social media, and using it in a way that enhances the news rather than just adding a bell and whistle to the newscast. What KOMU is doing is shifting how we consume our news. That’s no small task. Even with the advent of this experiment KOMU’s been doing with G+, Google itself wasn’t quite ready for it. Because it hasn’t opened up G+ for businesses and other entities to have their own pages, they shut KOMU’s G+ page down on Tuesday. Jen blogged about that yesterday:

I’ve had a lot of people ask me if I’m mad or disappointed. How can I be mad when I’m having so much fun in this new space? KOMU’s account started on July 1st and ended 19 days later. Google didn’t tell brands to get out and stay out until July 6th.

We’re anxious for Google to open G+ up to brands so this forging of path of journalism and social media can continue. Connect with Sarah and Jen on Twitter and on G+ if you’re lucky enough to have an invite. They’re friendly people, and best of all, love talking about the work they’re doing.