Twitter Reports First Again


At 9:18pm, this report was published on the Australian news source the Herald Sun.  It reported on an earthquake of intensity 4.7 that had hit Melbourne.  Of importance to the news industry, of course, is being the first to report on news events so the time stamp is very important.  I used http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock to verify my mental math that it indeed was 5:18am our time.  This news report was short and to the point that reports had been received of feeling the “earth tremble”.

But, I knew that already.

As is customary, I was up far earlier than that.  About 3/4 an hour previous, as I was checking my email, I had Twhirl just pulling in information from a number of different people that I follow.  I saw a couple of tweets go by from Robert Scoble.

Ever the news junky, I wanted to find out more and so did a Twitter search just to verify that this was happening.  At the time, it had just happened and people were tweeting like crazy.  In fact, I did a search and there were 320 posts already that had included the term “earthquake”.  According to @RealTimeTrends, this was trending big time.  Checked Twitter Search a minute later, and there were an additional 500 posts with the word “earthquake” in them.  People were also more accurately tagging their messages with “#melbourneearthquake”.

But, there was nothing on any of the news services that I follow.  So, manually, I look for ABC.net.au and Sky News for verification.  Nothing.  Then, I check the Herald Sun to see that it was indeed reported there at 9:18pm.

Not wanting to shirk my day job but also not wanting to lose the moment either, I put my laptop to sleep and head into work.  It’s now 6:25am our time and the Herald Sun has updated their report as of 10:12pm.  News reports are now coming through on the other services of the earthquake.

Quite obviously, the news services have to verify their facts before they publish.  Something like this has to be reported upon correctly.  But, Twitter is still live and people are continuing to report their experiences.  As I type this, there are 1870 new tweets tagged “#earthquake” and hundreds more tagged “#melbourneearthquake“.  A number of the other trending sources are reporting this as a major trend of discussion on Twitter.

Once again, we have the comparison between traditional and citizen journalism.  Is one better than the other?  It depends upon your needs.  In terms of real-time, accurate information, the two of them together provide a rounded, deeper, and more immediate coverage.

The best part is that, at this time, neither are reporting injuries.

What a spectacular media literacy lesson for a Friday.

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