Twitter: The Breaking News Source?

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June 26, 2013

It’s been a while since I’ve watched the news on television. Partly because it’s depressing. Mostly because it’s outdated. Yes, even the 10:00 news is a recap of the day’s events. If I want to know what’s happening right now, I now go to Twitter.

I first noticed this last year, after we had a small earthquake in San Diego. Google News had no information, so I hopped on Twitter for validation. Sure enough, my stream was quickly filled with #earthquake and followers checking in. During the presidential election, I found myself glued to Twitter as I cheered with other like-minded individuals and waited for the results to pour in.

At least the election was also being covered by news outlets and online sources. But last night … during the #standwithwendy filibuster … online was the only place you could find information. And I didn’t even see it on my Facebook wall. Not surprising, as most of my “friends” aren’t very political. And if they are, they usually keep it quiet on Facebook. But Twitter was alive and hopping, even into the wee hours of the night, as everyone tuned into the live broadcast (there were over 180,000 viewers at one point) of the filibuster and vote. Or lack of.

To recap, Democrat Wendy Davis, a Texas state senator, spent nearly 11 hours attempting a filibuster to block a strict new abortion restrictions in her state. Nearing the end of the time period, the filibuster was halted because of three “violations.” This sparked a debate, and even led to the senators talking over one another. With only minutes to spare, Republican majority forced a vote to end the filibuster – which sparked the protesters in the crowd to start yelling and cheering. In the resulting chaos, the Senate was unable to vote. It was amazing to watch.

But it wasn’t being covered anywhere else. And I saw many people on Twitter who mentioned this:

And then, when the news sources finally jumped in, they got it all wrong.

See, it didn’t pass. Early Wednesday morning, the bill was declared dead by the lieutenant governor. The Senate’s official vote on the bill was recorded at 12:03AM and thus didn’t count.

Sure. Twitter isn’t always accurate. It’s only as accurate as the sources you follow. But I find it very easy to weed out the people I don’t trust, find answers to questions, and now … to follow breaking news.

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