Tip news you see and help people near you

New feature on Breaking News creates a community nearby

Breaking News
4 min readMay 12, 2016


How often do you wonder what’s happening after hearing lots of sirens, seeing a column of smoke or feeling the ground shake?

It’s one of mankind’s most common curiosities. What just happened? Sometimes you’ll find it on social media or later on the news. But the fastest way to know is hearing from people around you.

So we’re launching a new feature in the Breaking News iOS app and Android app that lets you quickly and anonymously tip people around you when you see a breaking story. Just tap the new tip button at the top:

And you’ll see this list of options, each with its own emoji:

These are simple observations like police activity, fire, accident, hazard, protest, flooding, earthquake and “lots of sirens.” You’re not reporting a story (and it’s not a substitute for calling 911) — you’re just passing along a quick tip. Just three taps and you’re done.

Or for iOS users, just apply some pressure to the app icon for a shortcut:

When you post a tip, you can choose to send our editors a short note with additional details to help us locate the story:

Within a few seconds, your tip will appear in the “nearby” feed of the app, helping people around you avoid delays, disruptions or even a potentially hazardous situation. That’s the same news feed that already displays breaking news happening near you. Some stories are posted by our editors, others are Tweets submitted by our news partners.

Together, they provide the best assessment of news happening around you. Here’s a tip at the top, followed by a Tweet from one of our news partners:

When you tap a tip in the feed, you can see it plotted on a map:

Or tap the globe at the top of the app to switch to a full-screen map view. If you’re seeing too many tips in the nearby tab, you can shrink the radius in the map view from 50 miles (the default) down to just a single mile around you.

As you travel, the news changes with you. If a particularly big story breaks near your location — and you’ve turned on proximity alerts — we’ll send you a notification, an indispensable resource that’s helped people around the world know about public safety threats nearby.

We’re watching as tips stream into Velocity, our publishing platform. While we’re unable to investigate most of them, our editors can quickly click a tip to generate a social media search for news nearby. We realize that not every tip will be legit, and we’ve set up controls to limit misuse.

This is just the beginning, and we’re excited to see what happens next. We’re already working on ways to make tipping easier and more valuable — for example, identifying sudden “spikes” of similar tips in the same area.

If you have any ideas or feedback, please drop us a note to help us make Breaking News better for all.

(Post by Cory Bergman)



Breaking News

News about Breaking News, the NBC News startup behind the @breakingnews app and http://BreakingNews.com — the fastest source of trusted news in the world.