Friday, June 19, 2009

Twitter Does it Again

I've been contemplating all week if I should write something about the whole Twitter/CNN situation but haven't yet because I (a) just haven't had the time and (b) don't feel the need to "re-invent the blog post" so to speak, since there are so many great articles out there already (check out The Power of Twitter, written by a PepperDigital co-worker, or scan through the latest New York Times articles - there are new ones every day!).

The bottom line is that Twitter has once again made a huge impact on current affairs, and continues to beat out traditional news as a means of communication. We saw this a few months ago with the first pictures of the U.S. Airways crash being posted to Twitter before they made it to a broadcast news station. Today, Twitter once again "beat out" traditional news with the quickest updates on a story that hit close to home for me. Or should I say, close to my old home.

Having gone to the University of Georgia, I fell in love with the sweet little town of Athens over the last four years. Athens, affectionately known as "the Classic City," has an amazing downtown scene with tons of old buildings and hundreds of years of history. There are so many landmarks around the town that are well-known and loved by students and locals alike, but today there is one less.

When I woke up this morning, the first thing I did was check my e-mail, Twitter, and Facebook like I do every morning (okay, after I hit the snooze about 4 times - Fridays are rough). One of the first tweets I saw was about the Georgia Theater catching fire. WHAT?? I was immediately wide awake and began frantically searching the news for more information. (For those of you who don't know, the Georgia Theater is an old movie theater in downtown Athens that was converted into the most popular music venue in Athens, with headliners like R.E.M., Widespread Panic and other Athens legends over the years.)

I first did a Google News search to see what was going on... which gave me frustratingly few details (the theater caught fire this morning, more information to come..).  So, I posted a question to Twitter...

... and within minutes had responses from complete strangers filling me in on what had happened.  All morning, people have been posting live updates, pictures and videos.  Even now, there are few details to be found on traditional news outlets but Athenians continue to post the latest snippets of news on their Twitter feeds.  

When the U.S. Airways crash happened, people started saying that "it would only be a matter of time" before citizen journalism truly overtakes traditional media.  Where do we officially draw that line? Did it start to happen with the Twitter picture of the U.S. Airways plane down in the Hudson River? Can I say today, since I have relied solely on Twitter and have stopped bothering checking the local news sites, that Twitter has actually taken over? Or what about the situation in Iran, where citizens there can only rely on this one means of communication and all others are blocked? When will people stop saying it is "going to happen" and realize it is actually happening before our eyes?

No comments:

Post a Comment