Twitter as News Medium

On: October 10, 2010
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About Mares Kahrel
Hi I'm Mares! I just finished my study Media & Culture and started my New Media Master. I've always worked in bars, but I decided to do something else and started an internship at an advertising company called QI. I work there as a content manager. I thought it would be good get some relevant work experience, before I get my degree and have to find a job in 'The Digital Media World'. Besides working and studying I spend as much time as possible with my friends. I'm trying to find the right balance between work, study, friends, travels, dancing, sports and going out, which sometimes makes me want to have 40 hour days so I wouldn't have to deal with the shortage of time ;). But I guess we all do sometimes.....

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Because of the declining amount of people acctually reading newspapers or watching the news on TV and instead spending a lot of time sharing information through social media, I wonder If Twitter can be seen as a News Medium in today’s society. The whole concept of newsworhtiness gets cloudier. Dueze argues that due to the Internet, the way in which people consume their news is fast changing. News was previously limited to reading the newspaper, listening to news on the radio, or watching it on television. Today, however, audiences can get instant updates on the latest news items, through their social network, mobile phone etc.

Twitter is a popular way to get your update on the latest gossips, news and trends. It is intended to help people construct and maintain awareness of each others’ activities, context or status, even when the participants don’t know each other nor live in the same country. As Hermida (2010) argues, “the value does not lie in the individual sliver of information that may, on its own, be of limited value or validity. Rather the value lies in the combined effect of the communication.” This is what happens to news items on twitter too. Proffesionals and amateurs are working together by asking questions and sharing details, persepectives and ideas. The users receive information from established media as well as from each other. This way, Twitter enables citizens to maintain a mental model of news and events around them.

But not everything on Twttter is considered journalism. Random thoughts for example have little impact on people beyond the circle of friends. But on the other hand it’s a great platform to comment, share and report about events. A random person might me able to gather more information about a subject than a professional journalist. Like Johnson in his article about how ‘Twitter will change the way we live’ says; “Increasingly, the stories that come across our radar–news about a plane crash, a feisty Op-Ed, a gossip item–will arrive via the passed links of the people we follow. Instead of being built by some kind of artificially intelligent software algorithm, a customized newspaper will be compiled from all the articles being read that morning by your social network. This will lead to more news diversity and polarization at the same time: your networked front page will be more eclectic than any traditional-newspaper front page, but political partisans looking to enhance their own private echo chamber will be able to tune out opposing viewpoints more easily.”

What makes Twitter a good News Medium is the fact that the relationship to news people have, become more personalized, portable and participatory. And this is what Twitter offers. We like to tell others what we think of something and how we feel about it, instead of just receiving information. Users create items by re-tweeting each other. The way of participating and the ability to follow someone, gives us the opportunity to learn more about subjects we wouldn’t usually go further into. As a user u are challenged to ask questions, give opinions, change ideas, share resources and reflection. It is this open conversation that twitter offers, that make participation interesting. You can interfere with any subject you wish and learn more about it. You’re not just restricted to the 140 characters which you can use to write about your thoughts, but you can also u links to longer articles, discussions, posts, videos–anything that lives behind a URL. A research on whether Twitter can be or is used as a News Medium, and how many people would us it as a News source would be interesting.

Deuze, Mark , Bruns, Axel and Neuberger, Christoph. Preparing for an age of participatory news. Journalism Practice, 2007, p. 322 — 338

Hermida, Alfred. From TV to Twitter: How Ambient News Became Ambient Journalism. M/C Journal, Vol. 13, No. 2 (2010) http://www.journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal/article/viewArticle/220

Johnson, Steven. How Twitter Will Change The Way We Live (in 140 characters or less). Time; Vol.173, Issue 23

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