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Stephen Logan

Twitter Becomes a Frontline News Source

17th Jun 2009 Social Media, Twitter 2 minutes to read

The Iranian political crisis has exemplified the growing shift away from conventional media. With journalists almost universally barred from entering Tehran, meaningful news reports have been few and far between, particularly on television.

Social media, or as Jeff Pulver referred to it “now media”, has once again shown itself to be a powerful voice, and one that isn’t easily silenced. Twitter has very much lead the way in the reporting of the Iran electoral upheaval. With people caught up in the turmoil being able to provide firsthand accounts of what is going on, news is able to proliferate across the Internet in seconds.

As a show of support many Twitter users worldwide are also turning profile images green – the colour representative of Mir Hossein Mousavi’s defeated party. But, possibly more pertinently, have started a strong domestic media backlash with an attack on CNN, going under the conversation #CNNFAIL.

The growing disillusionment towards traditional media was highlighted excellently in today’s TechCrunch post Is Twitter The CNN Of The New Media Generation? Based around the events at the 140 Characters Conference hosted by Twitter, where Jeff Scoble was joined by pre-eminent faces of television journalism with an active interest in the micro-blogging site, it highlights just how far media and public expectations have come.

Whilst Twitter may be a very interactive public-orientated news source, television remains a fact-based service that is often far from being relayed in real-time. Reliability remains the sticking point for social media, and more particularly Twitter. Ensuring the validity of your sources over the course of a series of 140 character messages is by no means an easy task. In time though, this will surely be something that will be rectified.

As a source of news though, it still has to be taken with a pinch of salt. Unless the story is backed up by numerous eye-witnesses, blindly believing one persons account is still unadvisable; ensuring that professional journalism still has an important role to play. However, a source like Twitter, or whatever comes in the future, is going to increasingly become a global forum for communication and information sharing.

The role Twitter has played in reporting and spreading the stories associated with the Iran elections has arguably been unsurpassed. Is this a model for future communications? The answer is probably, although far from certainly. But it does possibly serve to further highlight the changing media landscape in modern society.

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