Last night I noticed a tweet from Chris Messina about the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. This made me think about the value of Twitter as a news source.
Apparently, people in Mumbai got the word out on Twitter first, well before the mainstream media did. This has happened before (the California fires for example). This raises the question if Twitter is a valuable news source? I think it might.
Some critics claim it isn’t, as tweets are not verified. While this is true, I don’t see why this would mean it’s not news as such. Wikipedia isn’t always right either and still; it is the world’s most important encyclopedia. Even the traditional media channels are wrong sometimes (see the ‘MP3 murder’ in Brussels)? Unverified eyewitness reports will always happen in the first chaotic moments after a disaster. Twitter is a news source, not the news source.
People must learn to look critically at news sources. Wikipedia, for example, is a good place to start looking for information but it should never be the place where you stop. In today’s world, it becomes more and more important to collect bits and pieces from various sources and build your own “truth”, dare to question your sources. Even the traditional news is colored as it looks from a biased perspective.