Micro-blogging, most notably the red hot Twitter, has revolutionized the speed, ease, and efficiency of information transmission. While tweets can range in importance from colocation pricing to presidential elections, their ubiquity across the Internet make them critical components of almost every major news organization, be it small and independent, or large and corporate-owned. There are a multitude of reasons for this but the main ones are as follows.
The Impact of Guerilla Journalism
Iranians used Twitter to update the world on their country’s contested election protests in 2009. Twitter has been used to break news on terrorist attacks and earthquakes. The Occupy Wall Street movement is using various social media and micro-blogging tools to spread its anti-corruption memes across the country. Micro-blogging is doing no less than yielding new age of guerilla journalism; as long as the net remains a neutral place, this bodes well for all democratic citizens.
A DIY Challenge to Traditional News Outlets
The dinosaurs of television news broadcasting have many invested interests, some of which are beneficial to the public, some of which are not. In most cases, they are owned by massive corporations with tightly structured political agendas that are not very flexible. On the other hand, social media micro-bloggers are relatively autonomous from any kind of propagandistic stranglehold and are free to post news raw and unfettered. This creates a news stream that is “straight from the horse’s mouth”, as the saying goes. Even when major broadcasters tweet, the nature of micro-blogging makes their information more prone to crowd sourced scrutiny and fact-checking.
A Preponderance of Voices
Instead of hearing one homogenized voice, popular micro-blogging sites like Twitter can feature hundreds, even thousands of different opinions, observations, and facts at once. While in some cases this can create an echo chamber, it also creates an environment for competitive truth-seeking.
Merger of the Consumer and the Creator
The future of news appears to be a time in which a consumer of news can also be a creator. With Twitter, a person who witness a train accident can suddenly become the on-the-scene news reporter, exposing time sensitive details of a story in the critical moments after it first breaks. The speed and efficiency of micro-blogging tools, along with its ability to deputize citizens in the reporting of news, is probably the most important aspect of this phenomenon.