Twitter Makes News Broadcast Obsolete

Twitter sends 140 character stories around the world instantly. News broadcasts send 30 second stories around the region during the five, seven and ten o’clock reports. News broadcasting is hardly instantaneous.

An interesting situation came to me last Wednesday during the Public Relations Student Society of America meeting. Our guest speaker was Cary Lieberman, the executive director of Greenhill Humane Society. He discussed what it’s like to work in nonprofit public relations. Greenhill Humane Society has a strong media presence throughout Eugene and most news broadcast networks would cover any story from Greenhill. Until Greenhill Humane Society’s social media became popular.

Greenhill Humane Society’s Twitter profile grew a healthy number of followers because their tweets were of events, success stories and cute new pet arrivals.

Greenhill Humane Society’s news broke over Twitter the instant it happened. This left the local news broadcast stations in the dust. The local news broadcast stations quit running stories of the humane society because they want to break the story.

Lieberman then slowed his Twitter presence so the news broadcasts could catch up. After a little time news broadcast continued to cover Greenhill Humane Society’s news.

After hearing this story I finally understood the effects that social media have on traditional media news. Papers take time to design the layout, print and distribute. Television broadcast have to film, edit and wait for their time slot. Tweets are written and sent, and the world has access to the information.

Twitter grew 1,382 percent from 2008 to 2009 according to a Nielsen statistic. Facebook only grew 228 percent in the same time period.

If Twitter continues to grow how will this effect traditional news media?

For example, the NBA’s trade window was open last week and sports enthusiasts glued themselves to their cell phones, computers and televisions watching ESPN and Yahoo! Sports. On the other hand the Twitter community was exploding with tweets instantly after these networks mentioned a trade or rumor. If Twitter continues to grow at this exponential rate, these sports news sources will be obsolete.

Twitter can reach a vast number of people instantly. If a post goes viral the message can be seen around the world in minutes. The only way for ESPN to stay in the game now is to become a leader in the Twitter sports community.

Social media will eventually decrease the number of channels a public relations practitioner needs to use. Companies like Business Wire are already reducing the number of media channels public relations practitioners use. This trend will only continue because of Google’s algorithmic improvements, which now search for content in public social media profiles. Information will be easier to find on social media sites, and traditional media will become obsolete.


About jedavis13

Student at the University of Oregon majoring in journalism and concentrating in public relations.
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5 Responses to Twitter Makes News Broadcast Obsolete

  1. taylorlong says:

    It sounds like Greenhill Humane Society had to alter its Twitter use to maintain a healthy relationship with local broadcasts and allow them to have breaking news before the stories were posted on Twitter. It’s interesting to see examples of how Twitter really does have an effect in the “real world.”

  2. msvanessab says:

    While Twitter does have an effect on the real world, there’s still limitations. The 140 characters one is very obvious. However, you also need to consider the populations on Twitter versus the populations on news sites, TVs, etc.: are they really the same? I know of individuals who wouldn’t touch Twitter a day of their lives. Likewise, Sony is a good example of Twitter abuse (in regards to their key scandal and a co-worker, who to this day we’re still unsure if they were an employee of Sony, a freelancer of Sony, a hacker) that can turn something useful into something deadly very quickly. I think that a combination of Twitter and websites would be the optimal approach to delivering any type of news to a large population. The populations that are on Twitter-while yes, they are interested in news-still want, and probably need, a full story.

    Consider the growth statistic. Is that growth representative of the people using Twitter just to get breaking news? Or does it represent more than that, such as people using it for non-academic use, or pure fun? It’s easy to argue that the growth is great, especially in comparison to Facebook. However, think of the platforms: Twitter is a constant status updating site. Facebook is a social network. Is that growth reflective of how many people don’t want to engage making a Facebook profile and managing it? What is Facebook used for in comparison to Twitter? While Facebook allows links, updates, photos, etc., it also requires a little bit more time and dedication. I can later post statistics on total populations of Facebook versus Twitter: it’s growth might be note-worthy, but Facebook’s population very easily blows it out the water. Based on your current reasoning, people should be Facebooking everything.

    Another deadly thing is that this is still on the internet. Google’s algorithm is robust, but not perfect. Through the gobs and gobs of scholarly research I’ve done, it’s still pretty easy to find…well, trash. Just the same, improper use of information is a quick way to misguide and agitate. Social media in particular is a fickle beast, as anyone can pose as anyone and post anything, and with the right ‘label’ or ‘credentials’, can produce a ‘story’. Look at how many CNNs exist on Twitter, or if you follow any music scenes, how many Cut//Copys exist. I suppose what I’m mostly speaking on is credibility. Look at how many news sites are using Twitter just to redirect you to their site. The news company you mentioned should have considered following the humane society’s Twitter, and then seeing if they could be the first to deliver the story to those who aren’t working Twitter (i.e. TV, radio, Facebook, some official site, etc). The only traditional media I know of that is almost officially dead is the newspaper, and in terms of communication, snail mail has pretty much died.

    With that said, I follow ESPN on Twitter. They actually are posting that information on there, then linking to their site. :p

    I’m not disagreeing with you, by any means-social media is the new News outlet. However, I am questioning how quickly you came to this assumption in regards to Twitter. What would occur if we switched everything to Twitter, or something similar, right now? I didn’t exactly find your blog post through Twitter, and I have it attached to my Android…. 🙂 I think it should be reconsidered the combination of Twitter plus other social media. You can’t completely render it obsolete-there is still that small population that regardless of what the times ‘tell’ them, are not going to convert. Leaving them in the dust leads to consequences as well (again, as noted in the news station’s altered view, to which you have to ask: which is more important…getting that face time/money, or staying ahead?).

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  5. Hey I was browsing through your articles and came across this one, I found it interesting because our intern here wrote a similar post. It’s basically about how social networks have changed the way news is delivered, you should check it out and it also may add some of the questions msvanessab has

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