The news of Whitney Houston’s passing was unexpected and sad. According to Associated Press the news broke out on Twitter 27 minutes to 45 minutes before the Press found out. The first original tweet of Ms. Houston’s death was retweeted once and when the Associated Press confirmed her death by her publicist it was retweeted 10,000 times.
Could Twitter be the latest craze for breaking news? The rate of speed that news spreads around the world continues to rapidly advance due to the Internet and the power social media networks. The passing of Whitney Houston wasn’t the first tweet of its kind, and unfortunately will not be the last. In 2011, as soon as the tweet hit the airwaves that Osama Bin Laden was deceased the news received global attention throughout the social media networks.Within the first hour of the official news that Whitney had passed, 2.5 million tweets and re-tweets occurred. People where hesitant to believe the story because hoax that are put on the Internet just for fun. Stories must be confirmed that they are not bogus.
The fast breaking Twitter news trend causes several problems for professional reporters globally. One problem is that the news is never verified when it first hits the social media by the public. Reporters have a responsibility to verify and confirm the story before it’s published. When Joe Paterno’s death was posted on Penn State University’s website, the news went viral instantly. CBS sports picked up the story and tweeted it. The story was not only false but insensitive to his family and friends. Mr. Paterno was in the hospital in serious condition but died a day after the news report hit the newspapers. His family had to have been crushed by the rumors and awestruck when he actually did pass.
The issue with this trend is that the news reporters are competing with the social media networks world filled with unofficial reporters putting out unverified news. This is forcing the professionals to put out half-truths. The news of the future will have to be produced with caution using the stream of Tweets and Facebook in order to keep up. The good part of using Tweet as a news source is that positive news spreads just as fast!
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