Monday, February 13, 2012

Twitter News

While here in the U.S. the biggest news this weekend was Whitney Houston's death and the Grammy Awards, in Greece a city was burning. Here, Mashable collects a sampling of the tweets, photos, and videos posted during the riots. As with several other recent events, the best way to keep up with things in real time was through Twitter, where people communicated, commented on what was going on, and posted updates including photos and video before official news sources could get things put together. Even here, Whitney Houston's death was reported first by Twitter - 27 minutes before the media.

People condemn traditional (and even online) news sources for being slow. And, comparatively, they are. However, I think it's worth it to take that time for confirmation, editing, and review to make certain something is correct before publishing it, even if that means it's 30 minutes, or an hour, behind the first reports. I hear a lot about how traditional news(papers) are dying, in favor of "citizen journalists." I don't know if that's a good thing. I suggest that what we need is a fundamental change in the way we look at and understand "news." It used to be that traditional sources really were not just the best and most reliable, but also fastest ways to find out what was going on in the world, and this is no longer the case. But I think that Twitter is not changing, as people believe, the way news is reported. I think that Twitter is changing the way news is experienced. Rather than reporting and observing, I would suggest that Twitter (and other social networks) are becoming an integral part of events as they happen, that it actually changes and affects the outcomes. When these tools are taking such an active role in what's happening, I feel that we should not consider them a news source, but part of the news.

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