Monday, May 02, 2011
No, Twitter didn't find Osama

Nowadays, when a big news story breaks there is often one common reaction from the public
and pundits alike: "Yeah. Twitter got there first."

In the case of Osama Bin Laden's death, stories started popping up (on Twitter, where else) of how the attack on his stronghold was accidentally live tweeted, and how the story broke first on Twitter, and how the President was two hours behind everyone else.

Is that really true? Yes, Twitter is a way for a subsection of the public to share small chunks of information quickly. But I'd argue that until the press - using Twitter more now for newsgathering than ever - picks up something interesting and writes a story, it isn't news in the sense we're talking about.

Matthew Ingram makes a good point on GigaOm today:

Looking at it as an ecosystem instead of a competition reinforces the point that all of these things feed into each other: TV reports are spread through Twitter; news that breaks on Twitter forms a part of TV and newspaper reports that try to summarize what has happened; and so on.

I agree. Twitter didn't 'have a CNN moment' today. Twitter didn't beat traditional reporting. I found out about the story on Facebook, after one of my friends saw it on TV while I was asleep. That doesn't mean my friend is better than the news because they got to me first - it means our news consumption is far less controlled nowadays. And we're all the better for it.