News is driven by speed. The media outlet that breaks the story first leads their competitors, and consumers reward those media outlets that get the timeliest news to them first.
It’s true. When you see the scrolling banner at the bottom of the TV that says “Breaking News”, what do you do? You stop and watch and listen. When listening to the radio and you hear the announcer interrupt the song with a “news flash” – you immediately pay attention. The most recent news is the most relevant, and media outlets have worked for decades to be the “first” to get the news to you before their competition.
Guess what? Web 2.0 and the Internet have turned this news model upside down. Now, instead of the news teams racing to the scene of an airliner accident to be the first with live video, and the first to interview the eyewitnesses, the first to break the news is no longer the media outlet. The first person to break the news is the eyewitness, or even the person who was in the accident. How? With Twitter. Twitter now breaks news at the speed of light. Did you know that when the Continental airliner crashed into the Hudson River this year, that one of the passengers that survived the crash landing Twittered his friends, and even sent photos? Instead of the news media outlet interviewing the survivor and breaking the news – the survivor was breaking the news himself via Twitter, with a real time update that he sent to his followers that they could then forward on.
The Internet and social media have transitioned power to the actual newsmakers, and away from the media outlets. Does this mean that modern day media outlets will soon become outdated? No – but it does mean that the speed of breaking news has just accelerated rapidly to almost near time information. Twitter not only allows an individual to share news rapidly, it also is a simple way to share that information rapidly amongst a large amount of followers. Now, rather than relying on a reporter in the field racing to the scene, the news media outlet has an army of millions of “news reporters” who can share breaking news with them instantly via Twitter as it happens.
Twitter also provides the immediate relevancy of news that the search engines have been looking for. When you search up the terms for “Hudson river airliner crash” on your favorite search engine after hearing about the accident, you don’t want to find search results that share articles that are several years old. The older search algorithms would often do this, as the “old news” had been indexed in the search engines and was deemed most relevant to your search. The search engines have recognized the lightning speed of news via Twitter, and are already rewarding Twitter posts with immediate relevancy on the search engines.