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Where the real news is at or just another delivery medium? – Twitter and the Schiphol Boeing 737 crash

Posted by putsimply on 25th February 2009

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog entry in praise of Twitter. While extolling the service, I don’t think I gave a rounded view of my attitudes.

My admiration for Twitter is not unreserved. In fact, despite Twitter being a useful tool, I think it’s somewhat overhyped, particularly in PR circles.

Perhaps I’m being inconsistent, (hand up). But what I didn’t mention before is that, in terms of its importance re: citizen journalism and networking, I feel Twitter is more a symptom of larger trends happening on the internet. Social networking is having its day in the sun, and is really becoming very involved. And most importantly, now that Mark (‘I patently stole this idea’) Zuckerburg of (‘this isn’t my idea’ ) Facebook is a gazillionaire, it’s understood that serious moolah can be made.

Now, as it becomes more bloated with people looking to push news, products and PR, I feel Twitter may be passing nadir of its usefulness.

However, we’re often reminded of the power of citizen journalism when delivered through a fast, democratised medium such as Twitter. This morning we were alerted to the crash of a Turkish Boeing 747 at Schiphol airport through Twitter way before the media cottoned on to it. When I checked, the Schiphol Twitterfall was still busy.

I have a huge flatscreen in front of me on constant news rotation, (hey, we’re pretty plugged-in here in the city). Twitter reported the crash so quickly that, by the time I saw the first report on BBC One planes were already taking off again. Jeez Louise – CNN and the BBC even stole the Twitter mobile phone picture.

The fact that Twitter beat the BBC by 15 minutes was keenly reported on Twitter itself. Everyone seems well aware of the importance of this event in terms of highlighting the new role services like Twitter have to play. In this sense it bore echoes of the July 7th London bombings in 2005. Someone I saw today referred to this as ‘the new fast media’.

Should the old media worry about this? Or does Twitter just bring another resource for them to draw on, thus improving their reach?