I was probably the first person to write that Twitter is the modern TV back in April. It is increasingly the place where you watch what other people say they do. Some of them are paid at work to be there, others are sponsored. Organizations and brands are keen on paying to talk in the stream — Twitter ads launched this past April.
In an interview with the Telegraph, Dick Costolo, Twitter CEO, said that its first few months had gone well and the company was now looking to localise its advertising offering via its promoted tweets. More recently, Twitter started selling its data and providing analytics.
Twitter is already a news service
Remember the Hudson River plane landing? The attacks in Mumbai? How about the California and Haiti earthquakes? Twitter is great for short news alerts, as long as we do keep vigilant about red herrings. Biz Stone recently said to Reuters:
"I think a Twitter News Service would be something that would be very open and shared with many different news organizations around the world."
During the Fort Hood shootings, interested citizens and locals, then mainstream media publications, showed how Twitter lists can be used for breaking news and to deliver information about what is happening at the scene.
In fact, I like that news sources and data points can be corrected in real time by people who are closest to where the incident is taking place. Citizens and locals reporting what is happening, especially when taping the events, or taking images on the scene, are probably to be trusted more than journalists who may not have the resources to verify a story days later.
There is another issue at play. You don't have to look very far to see propaganda at work in news reporting. Is it too much to expect journalists (should we call a columnist a journalist?) to base their writing on facts? asks K Gill on her blog, where she proceeds to compile a list of rebuttals to news coverage that basically tells people to "just grow up".
In a comment to Jay Rosen's list, Rich Becker writes: I wish journalists would be as concerned about the fourth amendment as they want everyone to be about the first. Curation of news reporting alone can be a valuable service in a sea of information. For example, I started a list of the main reports and links to follow current air travel issues on FriendFeed.
There are still a few improvements that I'd like to see on Twitter to become even more useful for news consumption:
- better speed and reliability (both still an issue)
- a more powerful search feature to identify industries/interests
- better ways to create lists for filtering content (than manually)
- bulk subscriber management options (so basic — why can't I search and select my own followers?)
- some sort of Inbox sanity for DMs (no spam filters — really?)
- anything location-based that you don't need to be a programmer to figure out
- the ability to control the experience of my business profile (portability and design will also set Twitter apart from the rigid Facebook)
We go on Twitter to find out what is going on or to report what we see and experience more than we're aware of doing. The immediacy of the tool an the instant nature of potential connections and support, along with how easily we can post to the stream, make it very suitable for this use.
Is Twitter the news system of the future, or is it already there?