Local NBC stations in both New York and Washington D.C. have rolled out a new experiment incorporating news, local celebrities and everyone’s favorite news add-on, Twitter.

Dubbed “The 20“, the experiment attempts to surface to stories that people are talking about “by following 20 individuals who shape the local conversation.”

Twitter has become a favorite for many news outlets. It can be a source for on-the-ground reports when news breaks, a way to easily source “man on the street” type interviews or provide quick samples of general public sentiment. This, however, takes the Twitter integration a level deeper, by defining 20 local influencers and relying on them to provide content for both a Tumblr blog and a Twitter list.

How do the stations pick their local 20?

It’s an art and a science. We combine input from social media organizations and factor in the trending local headlines and the topics driving the local conversation.

This will be a home for incisive commentary and coverage of the stories that New Yorkers are talking about. As these stories and ideas change, our list will as well.

According to Lost Remote‘s Cory Bergman, NBC has said it will roll out ‘The 20’ to all its markets over the next few months, with each station hiring a “social media point person”.

“People increasingly get their news and information from each other,” NBC local media platforms president Greg Scholl told Bergman. “I think it’s an exciting and innovative idea.”

This sort of method, of course, is second nature to us in the tech media industry. Organizing people, Twitter accounts, blogs, news sources, RSS feeds and any other streams into categories, running them through appropriate filters, and then seeing what comes out is the name of the game when it comes to tech blogging. The interesting part here is to see this multi-layer approach (rather than the usual “Joe from Bridgeport Tweeted ‘There’s 3 inches of snow here!'”) hitting local media outlets.

mike melanson