In 2006, a “real-time information network that connects you to the latest information” was launched. This network, used by celebrities and regular people alike, has fast become one of the biggest trends of this century. This network is Twitter.
“The social networking phenomenon has nowhere to go but up,” according to Ros Krasny of Reuters. As information becomes more mobile with the help of a plethora of high-tech gadgets including smart phones and iPads, so does the connection it offers. Young people today have grown up with the Internet and therefore know how to utilize what it has to offer. It is these benefits that the media industry is learning to use.
There are interesting cases showcasing how social networking sites can be used as a legitimate medium for sharing news and information. On October 15, at a murder trial in Connecticut, “twitter reporters” reported the trial live via twitter feeds, as reported by The New York Times. This isn’t a new concept, as live blog feeds and updates have been around for years. It is the simplicity of the act that is the point.
This “haiku journalism,” as one Twitter user called it, “was the perfect mix of intense local interest and a portable medium that can go where television cameras cannot.” Social networking sites allow for the instantaneous, simple reporting of events to an even greater audience than may be watching television or reading a newspaper in the middle of the day.
Though the rules governing such digital broadcasting from a courtroom are unclear, it is obvious that this is just another step in the new age of media. Websites such as Twitter Journalism have cropped up, claiming to be “where news and tweets converge.” Twitter Journalism is a “collaborative blog focusing on Twitter’s impact on journalism,” according to the website. It features posts discussing various topics: proving a relation between Twitter and the reporting of facts along with case studies and specific events.
This type of journalism though does not come without its risks. The blind acceptance of Twitter and online headlines as fact is “dangerous for the general public,” said Kevin Loker of Twitter Journalism, and “this is a widespread habit with the inherent speed in which we digest social media.”
It is for this reason that journalists face such challenges when harnessing new social media sites. The task is to learn how to utilize these sites to spread news quickly while maintaining integrity and accuracy. As social networking sites continue to rapidly expand, this will be the task of journalists in the new era of media.