The Twitter Effect

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?

  1. 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.
  2. 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:
  3. 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…..

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6 thoughts on “The Twitter Effect

  1. I think there’s a place for speedy eye-witness reports and for researched, thorough news stories. People want both, they want to know what’s happening, but they also want the truth. I think CNN etc need to be careful if they want to retain any credibility, but they could use it to their advantage to be on top of breaking news, but also to add eye-witness reports into their stories, using mistakes or incorrect information to add drama to their stories eg. mayhem broke out this afternoon in Newsville, while eye-witness reports claimed that 5 people were trapped under the tree, the situation wasn’t as bad as originally thought, only 2 people were trapped and both are now free here we have one of them on the line…

    • Absolutely agree with your point about CNN(and other major news reporting agencies) needing to retain credibility. But what is important is, as you said, that people want the truth, and too often news agencies today take liberties with “truths” in reporting

  2. I think the key point is contained in the words “being correct is subjugated to being first”. And yes, it is all wonderful to be first, but in the race against time, who is going to get hurt? It is only a matter of time before there is a ‘Twittergate” when something gets misreported that has serious, side-effects fro many, many people. IanMc

  3. Twitter only having 140 characters is a great headline maker, that’s for sure. As mentioned on my blog and on the post “how not to be annoying on social media” I’ve admitted that I do get some of my news on my Facebook feed. It’s much easier than sifting through pages and pages of crap. Someone already has found something interesting for me to read.

    However, in saying that, it might make the scope of my news source very limited because I’m only reading what interest other people.

    Sometimes I do fancy reading the news but I often find that it just depresses me…the Weird News section is always fun…I’m probably the idiot that goes to the cartoons first when I read a newspaper…

  4. To your question, I believe Twitter has an overall positive effect given that information can be disseminated quickly for public consumption and it allows normal citizens like us to somewhat experience what it is like to be in the shoes of the public figures which we idolize.

    But I would like to highlight that Twitter would also have negative effects in the sense that those who frequently tweet would try to shorten sentences so much that it may affect the essence of the information that is being presented to the point that it may be incomprehensible or even misleading. It may also instil poor grammar.

    One thing’s for sure, Twitter has changed how we communicate and it has sped up globalization exponentially in developing economies. If used correctly, it can unite people all over the world and in a way, it is possible to be united with friends across borders.

    The times they are a-changin’

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