Yes, this is a blog specifically about social media marketing, but I want to take a moment to again look at the critical, yet underappreciated, role of social media in reporting breaking news.
Since major tragedies like 9/11, the Miracle on the Hudson, the Boston Marathon Bombing, instant communication has been keeping people safer. Less than an hour ago, I was sitting in my Charlotte, NC dorm room just wasting time and I saw a series of retweets from my local news station from my hometown about a helicopter crash near the Space Needle in Seattle, WA. I quickly started following the story as new details were added and a progression of pictures documented the unfolding events. Within five minutes, I went from learning that a helicopter crashed near the Space Needle to knowing that a KOMO News helicopter crashed on top of two cars (one red, one blue) in a fireball where only the tail section of the chopper remained and two deaths were reported…and details are still coming in.
Learning so much about an event in such little time reminded me of how perfect Twitter is for breaking news and journalism in general. The whole point of journalism is concise communication of important timely events, and Twitter’s immediacy and necessary brevity is a perfect medium to share news. A tweet is just enough to catch your attention, give an update, and provide a way to learn more.
The viral nature of Twitter provides so much potential for news to gain momentum. Within a few minutes of the crash, information began appearing on the Twitter feeds of NorthWest Cable News, KUOW radio, NBC Nightly News, CBS Denver, The Seattle Times, Poynter, the Seattle Police Department, the New York Times, and even the NTSB. What other medium could reach such a large audience in such a short amount of time?
So, as our prayers go out to Bill Strothman (yes, I found the late photographer’s name on Twitter) and the KOMO News family, remember the power of Twitter in informing the public and keeping people around the world safe.
More information about the role of Twitter in journalism:
- Hashtags help journalists find relevant tweets and reach more people – The Buttry Diary
- Hashtags in the news – The Hashtracker Blog
- Twitter as News-wire – Twitter Blog
- Is Twitter the news outlet for the 21st century? – ABC News