Move over, journalists. Social media is taking over your realm of influence. The death of Osama Bin Laden and the outbreak of tweets, posts, and videos about the historic event provides the most recent example of how anyone with a smartphone can and does generate the news.
According to the article “How Social Media Creates a Rough Draft of History” posted by GigaOm, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, Facebook and other wildly popular social media sites are the newest, fastest, and most prolific way to document historic events. GigaOm relies heavily on research by Nicola Bruno for the Reuters Institute about reporting of the earthquake in Haiti in January 2010.
Starting with Haiti’s earthquake, defined by Foreign Policy associate editor Joshua Keating as “the first Twitter disaster,” social media has grown to embrace amateur or “citizen journalists” to first report on major world events. Bruno cites Guardian writer and live-blogger Mattew Weaver, who describes the recent news process as: “first the tweets come, then the pictures, then the video, and then the wires.” The changing face of coverage relates to more than death and disasters. Just think about how Twitter affected how Egypt’s revolution unfolded.
Concerns raised by more traditional journalists about how streaming social media undermines accuracy of news coverage are valid. No filtering system exists in the realm of social media, allowing fictitious characters like @GhostOsama to amass over 35,000 followers in just 12 hours. Still, Bruno stresses social media’s role of filling in the “news vacuum” following spontaneous news events.
Read more from GigaOm.