Twitter and traditional newswires ‘equally matched’ for breaking big news
Print newspapers’ days of breaking big news are long-gone, and now the globe looks to the internet to provide up-to-the-minute info on world events. However, while many claim that Twitter has emerged as the number one breaking news portal, a new report says that the platform actually shows little evidence of competing with traditional newswires.
Researchers at the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow developed a software algorithm to track news activity on Twitter, studying 51 million tweets over 11 weeks in Summer 2011, and compared these with output from news outlets (BBC, CNN, Reuters and the New York Times) for the same period.
What did they find? Neither Twitter nor newswires was regularly faster than the other in breaking high-profile news.
However, the researchers do concede that the way we use each source differs considerably. According to Dr Miles Osborne, lead study author: “Twitter and traditional news outlets each have their strengths in terms of delivering news. However, Twitter can bring added value by spreading the word on events that we might not hear about, and for bringing local perspectives on major news items.”
The report also identified a large amount of minor news items that had featured on Twitter but had been ignored by the mainstream media.