Twitter is a favorite tool used to spread news.
News organizations use Twitter as a way to report the news. It’s quick, free, and can be updated immediately. With this new platform comes new opportunities, but also new challenges.
One beneficial element of using Twitter is that multimedia can be embedded within a tweet. There are only 140 characters available per tweet. Jeff Sonderman of Poynter explains in his article why it is worth wasting some of those characters with a photo link. It takes an extra 20 characters, but research by Twitter has shown that tweets that include some multimedia element like photos or videos get three to four times more action than those that don’t. This includes retweets and replies.
Twitter also allows the public to get involved in the news. Users can reply to a tweet to ask questions. Sites like Storify have even given news outlets a way to share how people are reacting to the news. They create a story like this:
Organizations like NBC News use Storify to tell the “whole story”. Instead of just telling us that someone reported something on Twitter, they can show the tweet. They can show tweets of people’s responses, as well as from other news organizations. Anyone can search for public tweets and this allows for well-rounded stories.
Because so many people use Twitter, it is sometimes viewed as a “source” of news. According to Barb Palser of the American Journalism Review, when someone breaks a piece of news via a tweet, Twitter gets the credit for it. She goes on to talk about what happens when a celebrity dies. While Twitter may be the medium used to post it, Twitter, Inc. is not a news organization. The individual who tweeted is the source.
The way we receive the news is constantly changing. The pros and cons of Twitter will make it interesting to see where we go from here.