Is Twitter The Future Of News?

from the not-quite dept

The Loose Wire blog has a fascinating example of "crowdsourced" journalism in action: When the UK experienced its largest earthquake in decades, the story was covered first not by the BBC or a traditional wire service, but by a twitter-only news service called BreakingNewsOn. And that service, run by a 20-year old Dutch student named Michael van Poppel, got its leads directly from Twitter users in the UK who were surprised by the quake and made Twitter posts about it. I think this highlights some important trends in the future of journalism. First, when news happens, there are almost always some people around to observe it first-hand. So if enough of those people have ways of sharing their observations with the world -- via Twitter, blogs, Flickr, YouTube, or some other mechanism not yet developed -- then news reporting may consist largely of tracking down these various first-hand reports and synthesizing them into a story. It may not be necessary to send out a flesh-and-blood reporter to cover a story if there's already a ton of information about it on the Web. Second, the line between professional and amateur journalism is blurring, and will continue to do so. Someone we would ordinarily consider just a blogger can break news if he happens to be at the scene of a story or he happens to be the first to notice newsworthy happenings being reported elsewhere on the Internet. Finally, this story suggests one answer to the frequent hand-wringing over the decline of newspapers. It's true that some newspapers are being forced to reduce the number of reporters on the payroll. But that lost news-gathering capacity is likely to be outweighed by the vastly increased news-gathering capabilities of the Internet. If mainstream news outlets can get better at tapping these kinds of decentralized news sources, they should be able to report more news with fewer reporters.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Ajax 4Hire, Mar 3rd, 2008 @ 1:22pm

    Newspapers, definition:

    Newspapers: (archaic) practice of printing (on paper) selected stories, events and editorials and delivered a day later to you house.

    The NEWS was selected and re-worded by the owners of the newspaper to present a specific viewpoint (which may or may not coincide with your viewpoint). The selected NEWS may or may not coincide with your preferences of news stories. The information and news presented was typically biased by todays standards.

    Today, newspapers are still printed locally as a hobby (similar to candle making and horseback riding).

     

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  2.  
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    Iron Chef, Mar 3rd, 2008 @ 1:26pm

    Maybe, but probably not.

    It appears that "> more Americans are turning to the internet for news.

    I think this is driven by the 'long tail' -- Somehow driven by the core concept that people want to read news that's relevant to their life.

    Some news stories sourced from Twitter, et al, are sensationalized, but that can be figured out by reading some of the other news or opinion on the site your visiting.

    Will Twitter, et al overtake conventional news outlets? Dunno. But but what makes it newsworthy is "news consumers" are finally being able to get different slants on the same topic or story. This in turn allows an individual to synthesize a unique opinion themselves.

     

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  3.  
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    Frank, Mar 3rd, 2008 @ 2:16pm

    Crowd sourced journalism will never take off if the crowd continues to mistype "you're" as "your".

     

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  4.  
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    Hellsvilla, Mar 3rd, 2008 @ 2:28pm

    No

    No, twitter is for twits. Nothing else.

     

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  5.  
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    Petréa Mitchell, Mar 3rd, 2008 @ 2:48pm

    *Future* reporting??

    Has everyone forgotten that IRC was already being used this way over 20 years ago?

     

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  6.  
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    Iron Chef, Mar 3rd, 2008 @ 4:33pm

    Re:

    LOL! Thanks Frank. :-) +3 Coolness Points

    So what do you think about it? There's a lot of data out there these days!

     

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  7.  
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    Tony, Mar 3rd, 2008 @ 4:51pm

    Typo

    Hey Mike; found a typo.

    "First, when news happens, there are almost some people around to observe it first-hand. "

    Should read:

    "First, when news happens, there are almost [always] some people around to observe it first-hand."

     

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  8.  
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    /pd, Mar 3rd, 2008 @ 5:52pm

    breaking news ?

    "the story was covered first not by the BBC or a traditional wire service, but by a twitter-only news service called BreakingNewsOn" I think you better check the twitter records on who was actually cutting the chatter wrt to Earthquake !! I think he was really he was really late on that.. and while in the newspaper being outdated.. the tipping point is already here :)- http://twitter.com/chrispirillo/statuses/766249015

     

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  9.  
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    Dave Beck, Mar 4th, 2008 @ 2:46am

    It's not journalism

    The reports may come in quickly but it's not journalism.

    I felt the earthquake and turned to the BBC for a report. What I got was hysterical "twitter". Nothing about the epicentre, the scale , the potential damage (the scale would forecast this). I did find out that, variously, people were frightened, had never felt anything like it, furniture moved and that there appears to be quite a few people awake at 1:00am.

    This was good compared to the Camden Town fire "reporting" which had all of Camden Town ablaze and people dying everywhere. News should be about responsibility and trust, the general public are typically neither.

     

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  10.  
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    Carlos Granier-Phelps, Mar 4th, 2008 @ 6:31am

    A List of News Organizations using Twitter

    I've compiled a list of news organizations using Twitter to spread headlines and breaking news. Check it out (and contribute to it) at:

    http://red66.com/2008/02/a-list-of-news-organizations-using-twitter/

     

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  11.  
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    Lisa Creech Bledsoe, Mar 4th, 2008 @ 7:06am

    Twitter for breaking news

    I use Twitter for breaking news and other business purposes; my community there is mostly other social media professionals and new technology users. I get the regular links from NYT and other sources (I follow one NBC cameraman who Twitters his inside impressions before the story goes on the news), but because of the people who Twitter I knew about the the Appalachian lockdown before it was public, I see beta groups starting and new tech releases every day. Our company, Calvert Creative, trains businesses to use tools like Twitter to meet business goals. Twitter can also be a great community to test out your ideas with. Our local group holds face-to-face TweetUps, and we are becoming friends as well as colleagues.

     

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  12.  
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    pishba, Mar 4th, 2008 @ 11:41am

    twitter and earthquake

    FYI -- I was on Seesmic.com and Twitter at the same time the night of the UK earthquake -- and documentally in the UK did a post on videoblogging/conversation site Seesmic about the earthquake - a real first hand account - that landed in his Twitter stream JUST BEFORE the BREAKING NEWS Tweet did -- so they more or less landed simultaneously.

    Documentally is based in the UK.

     

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  13.  
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    Raj Anand, Sep 9th, 2008 @ 2:36am

    Twitter is the future of marketing too

    I feel apart from informing people about earthquake and what you are upto in general Twitter could soon become source of latest 30 mins offers at bars, clubs and restaurants. I have tried to predict the future of Twitter in 2010

     

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