Twitter vs. Journalism



A recent Poynter story by Jeff Sonderman got me thinking.

With “Is Twitter ruining journalism or are journalists ruining Twitter?” as the title of the article, I feel compelled to say something about it.

For a disclaimer, I don’t use Twitter for work. I use it for news and everything that’s on Twitter. I tweet coworkers and such, but I don’t specifically tweet for my job. I think I’ve live-tweeted a couple of events, but it’s a very rare occasion. I don’t want anyone to think that I’m some expert on Twitter. Just in the same way that I’m not an expert live-tweeter.

Twitter is like many things, in the sense that it all depends on how you use it. It’s easy and simple to use and people can get carried away with it.

I’ve been on Twitter since March 2010 and have amassed over 70,000 tweets. I use it daily and quite often. Calling me obsessed wouldn’t be out of the question, too. It’s a pretty big part of my life.

Twitter has turned me into a breaking news fanatic. I do have the breaking news app and it’s mostly Twitter. That may be a downfall of Twitter, but it’s what I make of it.

And, besides me, other Twitter users do the same thing for the same reasons. We crave it. It’s what, I think, Twitter was made for.

Twitter has changed the game of journalism. We see it every day.

Lately, I’ve seen a number of stories putting that fact front and center. Go here, here and here.

It’s two colliding worlds and we are seeing this profession put out in the open. I really don’t know how to put my head around it. Journalism is being done in front of our eyes, with reporters dancing around deadlines to tweet us the news before the stories are written.

It’s crazy if you think about it. I’m seeing things on Twitter minutes and sometimes hours before I see a story. It’s just the way things are now. It’s commonplace and, in many ways, it’s turning the profession on its head.

Scoops aren’t scoops anymore. Of course, there are the investigative scoops, but now it’s about who gets that first tweet. It’s about who gets the information out there first. I know it’s always been like that, but it’s more than just a race now. It’s a way of life.

Now it’s where did you see it? When was it tweeted?

We’ve seen Twitter negatively affect journalism with several events, including the Newtown tragedy. The wrong man was accused that Friday, among other inaccuracies that had people scrambling to figure out what really happened. It has strained the public’s trust to some degree because of the demand for speed.

Or it just leads to bad information on an almost weekly basis.

I don’t see anything changing anytime soon, either. I’m no expert, so, call it a hunch.



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