TNN — Twitter News Network

You think Ted Turner isn’t smiling?  His ground-breaking and now all.too.essential CNN (cable news network, for those that have forgotten what those initials stand for) is the gold standard for […]

You think Ted Turner isn’t smiling?  His ground-breaking and now all.too.essential CNN (cable news network, for those that have forgotten what those initials stand for) is the gold standard for “as it happens” news.

Until now.

Enter: TNN … the Twitter News Network

This shouldn’t come as any surprise.  For at least two years now Twitter has become THE information source to go to when news is breaking.  Hell, in many ways it’s become THE platform for breaking news itself.  Remember the plane landing in the Hudson river?  Incredible story:  first ‘reported’ by a passenger on a ferry tweeting out (what should have been) a Pulitzer Prize contending picture of the plane.  Here’s what the World Association of Newspaper and news publishers wrote about the incident:

Dramatic scenes from Thursday’s emergency landing of a US Airways flight into the Hudson River were first seen on social networking site Twitter. User Janis Krums was aboard a ferry used to rescue stranded passengers, and uploaded the news-breaking photo to TwitPic from his iPhone during the rescue. His caption read ‘There’s a plane in the Hudson. I’m on the ferry going to pick up the people. Crazy.’

The flight took off from LaGuardia airport at 3.26PM, and was already in trouble less than a minute later. Krums’ photo appeared on TwitPic just 10 minutes after take off, at 3.36PM. Traditional media outlet the New York Times was ‘a bit slow to get news’ of the incident onto its web site, running it as a breaking news item at 3.48PM but not covering it as a front page story until 4.00PM. Krums himself was interviewed by MSBNC 30 minutes after posting the image, but it was definitely Twitter that broke the story first.

And of course, the Boston Marathon bombing incident again proved out the mettle of Twitter for breaking news and keeping informed during a disaster.  Brian Solis writes in a brilliant blog post about the topic:

Like many, I found myself gripped by the real-time reports that poured in on the evening of April 19th…Boston Police were in close pursuit of the second Boston Marathon bombing suspect. Up to this point, I mostly followed the story via @CNN and CNNLive. I noticed however, that some of the most interesting updates were shared via Twitter directly by the Boston Police (@Boston_Police).

As police surrounded the second suspect while he hid in a recreational boat in the backyard of a home in Watertown, I shifted from online to TV. Yes…my  phone was nearby and it was in fact my second screen. I tuned in to Anderson Cooper on CNN to witness the apprehension as it happened.

Cooper cut to a report from a CNN field correspondent, who shared unconfirmed cheers among local residents. In that moment, I saw a Tweet come through on my phone from @Boston_Police, “Suspect in custody. Officers sweeping the area. Stand by for further info.”

Despite the value of Twitter during times of disaster and tragedy, there are those still clamoring to clamp restraints on it, as if it is some crazed junkie high on meth that needs to be reigned in.

And those requests aren’t coming from nation’s with despot rulers, they are coming from right here inside our borders. It happened during the Boston tragedy.

People listening to police scanners were relaying that info via Twitter.  Pleas went out from authorities that such tweets could be helping the fleeing suspects.  I doubt it… only in the movies are people, in fear of their lives, tracking a Twitter stream in hopes of getting the jump on the cops.

Nope, let Twitter run rampant.  Choose your filters well and have at it.



About brock

Brock is currently the Executive Editor at Atlantic Media Strategies and former Chief Washington Correspondent for MSNBC; he is the founder/creator/editor of CyberWire Dispatch, the Net's pioneering online journalistic news service. Previously he was the Director of Communications for the Center for Democracy & Technology, a non-profit, Washington, D.C.-based public interest group working to keep the Internet open, innovative and free. The views expressed here are his alone and do not reflect the opinions, attitudes or policy positions of his employer(s) past or present.