Last night’s sensational news about Obama getting Osama apparently broke on Twitter, giving rise to more debate about how Twitter heralds the end of news as we know it. From breaking news of the developments in Egypt to the Hudson plane crash, this is not the first or the last time that Twitter will break a story first.
Unrestrained by the need to verify anything, and boosted by the fact that a tweet can become 10,000 tweets in no time, there is no doubt that Twitter offers a rapid and dynamic outlet for news.
But because it is unverified information, undermined further by fact that the gullible twitter crowd seem willing to repeat anything that is tweeted as if it is verified, means that you’re never going to know whether you’re being duped or not until it is confirmed by a ‘proper’ news source.
Some examples of Twitter fakes…
Rumors on the Sarkozy affair were, according to French magazine L’Express started by a French trainee journalist to demonstrate how easy it was to spread malicious stories from Twitter to blogs to mainstream media.
American Airlines and JetBlue were inundated with calls from doctors across the U.S. following an erroneous tweet that claimed that the airlines were flying doctors to Haiti for free to help victims of the quake.
So this might just be the saving grace for traditional news outlets because once people have been punked once or twice, they are going to want more reliable sources of news and they might just be willing to pay for it. It doesn’t mean Twitter will go away, far from it, but it does mean that Twitter will not replace traditional media completely as some are saying.
The same principle can be applied to the industry blogs that are undermining the vertical press. Sooner or later people will tire of the poor quality of reporting and information and will demand more editorial integrity and sophisticated reporting where, rather than being drowned by a slew of self-published stories that offer no value, they will actually learn insightful things about their industry.
All of which is generally good news for the PR industry!
This post was first published my Martin Jones on March Communications’ blog, PR Nonsense, and may be viewed here.