Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Where you read it last

Only occasionally will you find 'breaking news' on Twitter - if you are following the right people and reading at the right time. If you follow any of the newspaper feeds including the Belfast Telegraph, you will get a headline linking to the story online.

Once or twice news has been broken on Twitter. The biggest story was the US Airways plane crash landing on Hudson, accompanied by photos on Twitpic. It is said - although I've yet to see the evidence - that Michael Jackson's death was announced on Twitter 13 minutes after it was declared from within the hospital. News of earthquakes is Tweeted and sometimes other major disasters are covered by citizens caught up in them.

Instant communications about events are enhanced by micro-blogging. Although back in the summer on July 10 when there was a bomb alert in Belfast, only two people Tweeted about it - me and someone else milling around the Waterfront. At that time there was smoke coming from a building in west London which was getting a lot more attention from the Twitterati. London was recently recognised as the Twitter capital of the world. So we haven't got the bulk users yet.

Short form messaging will play a real part in breaking news in the future, but for now Twitter and similar forums are reactive spaces.

Throughout September there was hardly a mention of the Nobel Prize. Yet on October 9, according to trendistic.com, the Nobel Peace Prize was the biggest topic - for a day.

  • Great comment on TIME: Nobel committee should be given a peace prize for uniting the twitterverse in sarcasm.
  • Was that thunder we heard? Or Alfred Nobel rolling over in his grave?
  • Must have been the "beer summit" that put Obama over the top for the Nobel Peace Prize. What else could it have been?

You don't get a lot of analysis in 140 characters, but you do get a sense of the mood. Sometimes you'll find pithy observations. But that's what it's for. If there is something more important a link with the comment will take you to there. It's not news, but it is a global editorial page where everyone's view has equal exposure.

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