As the 2 previous postings have highlighted, Twitter is beginning to encroach upon territory once reserved for News Media Agencies. More and more, Twitter is becoming a source of breaking news and discussion. This begs the question, what sort of effects is this having on News reporting and news consumption?
- Citizen Reporting/journalism – To call if journalism might be a stretch, but what is happening a lot on Twitter these days, and what gives it a major advantage over traditional News Media Agencies like CNN, particularly in the case of breaking news stories and ongoing events, is that eyewitnesses on the scene of major situations are able to “live” tweet events as they transpire, providing pictures and updates of unfolding scenarios at speeds that CNN or the BBC would struggle to keep up with. In essence, anyone and everyone with a smartphone and a twitter account can be a “reporter” and a source of news stories today. So when everyone can be an eyewitness, when everyone can report, what then does a journalist do, what is their role in the news reporting industry? Indeed, the increasing prevalence of social media platforms like Twitter as means of news reporting and dissemination is one of the biggest threats, in my opinion, to journalism.
- News at breakneck speeds – There is no question that the quickening pace of communication over the last years, including the rise of Twitter, has heightened our expectation of the timeliness of news. Today, Twitter is beginning to compete with Newswire in terms of lead time on breaking news stories. The inevitable result, bemoaned by many traditional journalists, is that being correct is subjugated to being first. Attitudes are increasingly that it’s better to be first out and have to correct than to delay too long. This leads me to my next point:
- Speed over accuracy – Spurred by competition amongst news media outlets and platforms like Twitter, the modus operandi in the news reporting world now seems to be “report first, ask questions later”. Twitter users are most definitely guilty of getting facts wrong and misreporting events. But then again, its Twitter and these users, for the most part, are doing exactly what you would expect unqualified eyewitnesses to do, get things wrong. But in this mad scramble to be the first to report a news story, major news media networks are also making the same amateur mistakes that you get on Twitter. One need only look at CNN and its recent gaffes to realise how badly news media agencies are trying to get ahead. Here is a link to a well written article on CNN and its more recent embarrassing mistakes caused by being first, rather than being right: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/22/business/media/in-boston-cnn-stumbles-in-rush-to-break-news.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
What do you think about the effect that Twitter, and social media in general is having on the News industry? Are these effects largely positive or negative? Your thoughts in the comments section…..