Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The power of Twitter

Twitter once again showed what it can do as a news gathering source today, and proved it's not just a 'celebrity' application. Following 'tweets' about the plane crash in Holland helped me find not only someone at the scene @nipp, but also photos being taken and uploaded to the site, almost 10 to 15 minutes before they were uploaded on to the BBC website, usually one of the first sites to have images.

Not only this but following @nipp provided a series of updates, on what was happening on the scene live, before anything else was on a major news website, like these two updates: "I'm seeing a lot of ambulances and emergency heli's. It looks like the situation is under control, relatively" and "Again, the planes lookes like its in multiple pieces. With over a hundred people on board, that can't be good." (sic).

Furthermore both the BBC (via @ruskin147) and Channel 4 (via @channel4news), were messaging @nipp and asking him if he would contact them so they could speak to him. Indeed, C4's Twitterer simply asked its followers if they knew of someone on the scene and no doubt was directed to @nipp. He was then interviewed and it's on their website now. The Mumbai terrorist attacks, the plane crash in the Hudson and now this event, have all been covered by Twitter, with images coming in more quickly to an application site, TwitPic, faster than major media outlets.

When I was on my course blogging and so forth was consistently mentioned as the future of journalism, and most often as the 'death of the journalist', but it isn't/wasn't. It's a new writing outlet (not even new now), one that is open to everyone, and one that journalists need to engage with and use, and now do on almost every site of note, but not the end of journalism, just a new branch.

If I was coming into the media, giving talks on it, looking to the future etc, the impact of Twitter, especially its potential as a news gathering source for quotes, pictures and news, would be the thing I would focus on as the
latest media development, and a far more interesting one too.

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