Bin Laden, Twitter and the News: Now What?

At this point the role of Twitter in spreading the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death is hardly news, and I certainly won’t rehash all the breathless proclamations of Twitter as the “new CNN” but here’s a run down of the major points

Mashable: Bin Laden’s Death Sparks Record 12.4 Million Tweets Per Hour [STATS]

Twitter has released updated statistics on the usage of its platform last night. Previously, the social media company reported that more than 4,000 tweets were sent per second during the beginning and the end of Obama’s speech. It now says the real number of tweets was about 25% higher.

Mashable: One Twitter User Reports Live From Osama Bin Laden Raid

Without knowing what he was doing, Sohaib Athar, a.k.a. @ReallyVirtual, has more or less just live-tweeted the raid in which terrorist Osama bin Laden was killed Sunday.

The IT consultant resides in Abbottabad, the town where bin Laden was found and killed by a U.S. military operation.

Athar first posted about events surrounding the raid 10 hours before the publication of this article, writing, “Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event).” He didn’t realize that he’d been tweeting about a top-secret attempt to kill an internationally wanted terrorist until nine hours later.

The use of Twitter to quickly disseminate the Bin Laden story is definitely relevant, and should be used as an example for those who still dismiss Twitter or social media in general as a place for people to talk about what they ate for lunch.

The fact is, social media did scoop TV and print media in this case, and for some, it was the only source of information on this event. But now what? Will the Bin Laden Effect mean anything for how news organizations in general use Twitter? I hope so, for the most part many major news organizations have been grudging adopters of social media tools, and it’s been individual journalists who have really taken advantage of Twitter’s speed and brevity.  But rather than looking at social media as as a competitor or glorified news feed, i am hoping this event  (particularly the case of @reallyvirtual) will prompt more major news organizations start to integrate Twitter intentfully as a tool for reporting and news curation (a la Andy Carvin from NPR)

Any examples of smaller news organizations that are already doing this? I’d love to hear more about it.

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