How to send news tips in Boston?

In Unread Alerts, I suggest that anybody with a cell phone ought to know the contact points for their local news organizations. Finding the contact information is a different maze on each site. Given that many websites have adopted the familiar orange RSS icon, why isn’t there a consistent and recognizable icon for reaching the contact page?

When news breaks, it’s probably easiest to look in the phonebook. In fact, of the 5 television stations, I could find the phone number for only one of them on their websites– for WHDH’s tips hotline. Only WHDH has made an effort to brand their tips submission.

Here’s what I found for Boston’s 4 daily newspapers (including the 2 free dailies), 5 television stations, and 2 radio news stations. I looked for the “tips” number or the local news bureau:

  Web Phone  Email  Text Message 
Boston Globe (    617-929-3100 [email protected]   
Boston Herald form  617-619-6789    
Boston Metro   617-210-7905    
BostonNOW    617-482-3669  [email protected]   
NECN – New England Cable News   617-630-5000    
WBZ – CBS affiliate    617-783-4444    
WHDH – NBC affiliate  Send it to 7 800-280-TIPS [email protected]
[email protected] 
WCVB – ABC affiliate form  781-449-0400    
WFXT – FOX affiliate  form  781-467-2525     
WBZ NewsRadio   617-787-7000 [email protected]  
WBUR – NPR affiliate form 617-353-0770    

The web form may seem cumbersome, but it can support anonymous tips; it may also be less susceptible to spam. A text message to an email address generally includes the sender’s phone number, so it would be authenticated to some degree.

I’ll update this page to keep it current if I get more information. I think there’s a larger issue about whether news bureaus should be easier to contact, and whether they should register short code addresses. None of them have a specific text message address (aka “short code”) which are administered in the U.S. by the Common Short Codes Administration. It’s $500-$1000 a month for a 5- or 6- digit code. Of the 129 registered services listed as “Info Alerts,” a handful are owned TV and radio stations, and none explain that they can be used for passing along news tips. Most of the advertised upload/inbound capabilities of the short codes are for responding to trivia contests on music stations.

Is registering a short code entirely necessary, would it allow news to be reported that wouldn’t otherwise be? Would it just encourage more spam to a news bureau? I don’t know, I just suppose that it will be another branding extension– which may prove extremely useful when the Big Story hits.