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Twitter as a News Source


First of all, I apologize for the lack of blogs lately. I have been very busy-I just got back from getting married and going on a honeymoon!

Speaking of our honeymoon, an event that happened while we were there sparked me to write a blog which, as the title implies, is about using Twitter as a news source.

My husband and I traveled to San Francisco, California, for our five day, four night honeymoon stay. After a wonderful time filled with amazing food, beautiful scenery, and the best workout I’ve had in weeks, we headed to the airport that Saturday. That happened to be Saturday, July 6, at the San Francisco International Airport and our plane was to take off at 11:16 AM. We boarded the plane on time and taxied out to the runway. By that time we were running just a few minutes behind. We were second in line on the tarmac when suddenly people begin getting up out of their seats near the front of the plane. People start talking and getting louder and louder. The pilot of our plane came over the intercom and announced, “there appears to have been an accident on the runway”. End of announcement. The people at the front of the plane could see some of it. The people near the back of the plane (like us) were left totally in the dark. People sit for a few moments and then begin to ask if they can use their phones. This is when the chaos started. Immediately people began powering up their devices to let their loved ones know that they were okay and tell them what little information they knew. We, of course, called our parents and put up a status online to let everyone know we were okay. The problem was that no one knew.

I, being the social media freak that I am, pulled up Facebook. Nothing. Not a single news source had released anything, no status updates, no anything.  Twitter was a different story. Immediately things like #SF #airport #planecrash #sanfrancisco were trending. There were pictures. There were posts about where the plane came from. There were posts about what the flight number was. ALL before the story was breaking news on television or any online media source.

From the time the plane crashed until it broke on a credible news source (like CNN, Fox News, MSNBC), almost 45 minutes had gone by. 45 MINUTES. Yet, on Twitter, it had broke almost immediately.

News breaking on Twitter is nothing new.

News broke of Whitney Houston’s death hours before it was confirmed by AP news (source). The New York plane crash into the Hudson in 2009 broke on Twitter over 15 minutes before it broke on mainstream news (source). On the day of Micheal Jackson’s death, over 30% of Twitter traffic was eaten up by tweets about him (source).

Nor is the breaking news always credible.

Remember when hackers broke into the Fox News Twitter account and fake tweeted about an Obama assassination? Or, just this year, when Burger King and McDonalds were hacked in the same week?

My point is for us to think-will social media become the first news source people go to instead of flicking on the television or turning on the radio? As more credible resources jump onto the real-time media train, this becomes more and more possible.

What about you? If you know news is breaking, where do you go first?

Until next time