Twitter Typographic from Jennie on Flickr.
Twitter has become a source of news for many people in the past few years. Some even rely on Twitter as their main, or even only source for information about the world around them. Is this a good thing? Is twitter a viable news source? I think it is.
I have been using Twitter as my main news source for a while now. I do love to still read the newspaper and flip through a magazine, but Twitter can bring the world’s news to my fingertips. Especially now that huge news powers such as CNN, Associated Press and The New York Times are focusing more and more on Twitter. However, if you rely heavily on twitter for news, it is important to know how to use it.
Twitter can be manipulated very easily. Anyone can make an account and it can be hard to sift through what is real and what is not. Following “verified” accounts of well known news organizations can help. Another downfall to Twitter is that the app itself can not give you the whole story. Tweets, even from the reputable news organizations, usually consist of a snippet of information and a link to the greater article.
“. . .it is virtually impossible to work eight hours a day, take care of the kids, regularly ride the train to work and back, read books and articles, follow what hundreds of people are tweeting at the same time, and click on the links they suggest and end up absorbing anything fully,” said Janic Tremblay of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard.
Even with these hardships, I think Twitter offers a journalistic service that we can not overlook. When trouble broke out in Ferguson, Missouri, I could not find much coverage about what was happening there. It was vague reporting with no close detail. Then I started seeing tweets from individual reporters on the street who had packed up and gone to Ferguson. Journalists like Jamelle Bouie of Slate took to twitter to report what they saw at a time when the real story seemed foggy.
Twitter is a social media site first and foremost, and it can be a hassle to navigate at times, but I believe it can provide a service through more immediate, hands on journalism that we may need even more in the future.