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Twitter responds to Japanese disaster

March 28, 2011

For an insight into how Twitter is reshaping the way breaking news is delivered to consumers, you need look no further than the coverage of the devastating earthquake that struck Japan earlier this month.

According to the New Media Index, 66 per cent of news links posted on Twitter that day were about the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

The report suggests that Martyn Williams, a reporter and bureau chief for the IDG News Service, was among the first to break the news with his tweet: “Major quake shakes Japan — preliminary M7.8.”

Before long photos, videos and updates from those affected flooded the Twittersphere give an often horrifying first-hand account of the disaster that struck the coast of north-east Japan.

According to the research, for the entire week of 7-11 March, 20 per cent of the news links were about that subject, making it the top story.

Twitter is now a source of breaking news, where users can often find content faster than through traditional outlets.

The growing trend may unsettle some of the large media corporations, with the thought of users by-passing their publication completely a genuine cause for concern.

But in truth Twitter is a journalistic medium that must be embraced by media both old and new.

By keeping users up-to-date with breaking stories through their own Twitter profiles, large media companies can enhance their brand image, and make users more likely to visit their outlet directly in future.

Twitter is now an accepted part of journalism, with tweets from celebrities being used as sources for news articles on an increasingly frequent basis.

While it is attractive for users to get their news directly from the celebrity/sportsman/spokesperson they follow on Twitter, by aggregating and republishing Tweets as stories, news outlets are playing an important part in new media journalism by ensuring their own readers are kept up-to-date.

By having an active presence on Twitter and incorporating social media into how they function, news outlets can ensure their service keeps pace.

(Photo: via Wikipedia)

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