Twitter as a News Medium

Twitter Typographic from Jennie on Flickr.

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.

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7 responses to “Twitter as a News Medium

  1. I absolutely agree that Twitter can serve as a valuable news outlet, when used correctly. I have several friends who aren’t journalism majors, and they tell me that Twitter is the only way they get their news. It doesn’t get much easier to read than 140 characters, and because of that, I think we’re finding that people today are more informed than ever before. I also like to give the public credit. Because they’re so informed and technologically-savvy, I like to think that people who are using Twitter as a news source are able to weed out the fake headlines and pay more attention to respected and reputable sources.

  2. I completely agree with you! I think Twitter, especially now more than ever, is a very valuable news source. Like Lauren said, I have many friends who solely use Twitter as their source for what’s going on in the world; they have found reliable sources that they truly enjoy reading and get good information out of. To me, Twitter is a great source for current breaking news but it is not my sole provider. I still feel that to get the whole story a person needs to read the whole article rather than just 140 characters and a picture.

  3. I completely agree with your statement about Twitter being a news source. While I’m at college, it is the easiest way for me to stay updated with the news. I never have the TV on, and I occasionally pick up a newspaper to check out, but having a list of major news outlets to scroll through is the easiest way for me to keep up to date as to what’s going on. Though they only provide short snippets of information in the tweet itself, the easily accessible links they provide give me an easy way to read articles and keep up to date with world affairs.

  4. I also agree that Twitter has become a viable source for news. It’s easy enough to scroll through and see the major headlines that are going on that day. However, I think it’s important to note that outlets such as CNN and New York Times have a much greater range of info to share than what they are tweeting about. Twitter is a great way to hear about big stories, but I still think it’s important to pick up a newspaper or checkout their websites in order to really see what’s going on.

  5. I also completely agree with your statement about Twitter being able to serve as a valuable news outlet, when used correctly. I just recently started using Twitter again, and it has been beneficial in finding out about news. I follow a lot of credible news outlets, and when I see the Tweet, I usually click the link to read the full article because obviously they won’t be able to get the full content of the article onto Twitter. It’s helpful for me because I’m a full time college student, I also have a part time job that I work about 20 hours a week at, and I have to leave time for studying and homework. So it’s nice being able to stay up with the news via Twitter, and the links I can click from there.

  6. I agree with the above commenters that Twitter, used correctly, can be a valuable news outlet. I find out a lot of information from carelessly flipping through my phone. Twitter can help give first hand accounts of topics, and can keep people informed if there are any updates on breaking news. Twitter is the quick and dirty method to find out news, but I hope people follow the links and read the stories accompanying the tweets.

  7. I think the point you made about making sure to follow verified news sources is extremely important if you’re going to be using twitter as your source for news. Since most news agencies now use twitter for fast and immediate reporting, I think its a great way to get recent and breaking information. I don’t really use Twitter as my primary news source, since I often go on Twitter and end up just browsing my feed instead of actually looking for anything, but I think that when that is your goal Twitter makes it easy connect individuals to information that may be valuable to them, while also giving individuals a way to inform their peers by retweeting information.

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