Teresa Horscroft's blog

Teresa Horscroft is a PR consultant who helps companies in the information technology and marketing sectors to raise awareness of their products and services and increase sales.

08 March 2009

Where news breaks

I first read the news that a Turkish airplane had crashed into Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport on BBC NEWs Online. But this online news site was not where the story first broke. Neither was it a rival online news site, television, radio or a daily paper. Citizens not journalists broke the story first on microblogging social website twitter (www.twitter.com in case you haven’t already tweeted). It’s not the first time major news has first been aired by tweeters either – Twitter was also where news of the plane crash on the Hudson and the terrorist attacks in Mumbai first became widely circulated before it was picked up by the media. It got me thinking about whether this was a new media phenomenon or simply an online replication of a process that’s always happened in the real world. Certainly journalists have been listening to consumer conversations for years. In the last few years this may have involved tracking discussions in an online discussion forum or social networking site like twitter, but before the Super Information Highway (what we used to call the Internet way back) it was during a conversation with friends in the pub or at a Rugby game or from snatched conversations on the train. People have long been the real source of a lot of breaking news.

It’s easy to get carried away with the latest in online media. We need to remember that as much as the Internet - and the wikis, microblogs, blogs, web sites and social networking sites that populate it – should be a key element of any communications strategy, life isn’t all online. At least not yet. People still do read the newspaper, talk to friends and look up from their blackberries or computer screens (from time to time anyway)!


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