Is Twitter The CNN Of The New Media Generation?

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This past weekend the Twitterverse spoke-out in exasperation and opposition against traditional media networks (CNN specifically) and the absence of instantaneous coverage of the Iranian election and the resulting fallout. “We the people” wanted real-time information regarding the violent protests that erupted on the streets of Iran and the stories probing potential foul play in the results. We took to Twitter to express discontent and to also uncover the real story as it was unfolding live through citizen journalism.

The world was watching . . . and it did so on Twitter, not on CNN or any other news network.

At the 140 Characters Conference (#140conf) in New York, Robert Scoble hosted a fervent discussion with social-media-savvy traditional news personalities to explore how Twitter was transforming the process of news gathering and lead sourcing. Joining Scoble was Ann Curry (@AnnCurry)—News Anchor on NBC’s Today Show and host of Dateline NBC, Rick Sanchez (@ricksanchezcnn)—host of the 3PM weekday edition of CNN Newsroom, Ryan Osborn (@todayshow)—producer, NBC Today Show, and Clayton Morris (@claytonmorris)—anchor, Fox News.

In the case of Iran’s election, Twitter once again served as the lifeline to news and information for a monumental and historical event. Conference organizer Jeff Pulver calls this the era of “now” media, fueled by new and social media and the people who power Twitter and other popular networks. The pursuit of “now” is conditioning us to expect information as it happens, whether it’s accurate or developing.

The question is, how will this latest example of community-powered news consumption and distribution effect how traditional news organizations gather and report on news.

Robert Scoble said of his inspiration for the session, “I wanted to learn more about the election in Iran and the crisis and the violence that was spilling onto the streets. I couldn’t find anything on CNN. In fact, all I could find was Larry King talking to motorcycle mechanics.”

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His frustration was shared by many, which served as the groundswell for the powerful Twitter storm that ensued. In the words of Twitter creator and co-founder Jack Dorsey during his morning keynote, “Twitter is about approach, transparency, and immediacy.”

If media is fragmented and distributed, perhaps what we’re now witnessing is that the framework for publishing news is physically and financially constraining its ability to evolve and adapt in “Twitter time.” Rick Sanchez expressed frustration with his fixed time schedule for reporting news. As an avid user of Twitter, he also acknowledged that things have to adapt: “Is news judgment changing? Yes!” He continued, “This is the first time we can connect directly with citizens who could be a reliable source aside from the talking heads and pretty faces that serve as news anchors.”

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