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Ali Donzanti Headshot

Twitter as the New News

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Last Friday night I was on Twitter to keep in the loop with the events in Watertown. I was very interested on the updates and progress of the manhunt and BBC and online news sources just weren't updating their stories fast enough for my satisfaction.

Twitter is fabulous. It's fast and easy. Events happened quickly and Twitter allows these news stories to be introduced and shared before an article has time to be written. But it's also full of inconsiderate people who create prank accounts and tweet inaccurate and inappropriate messages.

While I was following the Watertown manhunt on my phone, I realized all the suspect needed to do was have a smart phone and he would be able to see everything I could. He would know exactly where police and authorities were and what was happening in all of Boston and the world. Authorities themselves were tweeting asking people to stop tweeting about certain developments. In a situation like this, is Twitter more of a disadvantage than a useful media tool?

There would be a development on Twitter, for example gunshots heard, and it would take 10 minutes or so before NY Times or BBC had a written article confirming the situation. A lot can happen in 10 minutes and some news sources seemed to be very behind Twitter.

There also seemed to be much more speculation on Twitter than on online news media. While the Twitter feeds came in first, the national and international news sources were more accurate. The Boston Globe and local news seemed to jump the gun with tweets and be a little too excited when there was a possible update. Many tweets were retracted and updated to clarify the unsubstantiated information provided earlier. Perhaps, is it sometimes better to put the phone down and just check the news in the morning instead of receiving 'immature' tweet updates?