Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Twitter Action News

With national and local news outlets posting up-to-the-minute updates on breaking stories using Twitter, it's no secret that many people rely on the website as a source for their news updates. While getting information through tweets can be quick and convenient, it can also be inaccurate. Unlike television news coverage where reporters can take the time to get more information as it comes, Twitter is instantaneous. Being able to provide accurate information immediately can become tricky.

On Monday, when the tragic shooting occurred at the Washington, DC Navy Yard, I happened to be in classes all day. Being a DC native, I was extremely concerned for my family back home. Seeing that there is no way to watch the news during class, I turned to Twitter for updates on the progression of the shooting and the investigation. While initially I found the constant feed updates helpful for keeping me informed, I realized that most of the information I was receiving (and admittedly sharing) became more inaccurate as the story developed. I relied primarily on @nbcwashington, @washingtonpost, and surprisingly, @nbcphiladelphia. Both the number of victims and shooters fluctuated between every station and with every tweet they sent out.

All of the news feeds served their purpose of keeping me in the loop when I couldn't get to a television for live coverage, but I've learned that Twitter still is not a reliable source for news, even if it's coming from a reputable news station. Twitter should be used for quick updates only, hence the 140 character limit. However, every tweet should be taken with a grain of salt and fact checked before you believe it or share it.

Do you utilize Twitter to receive information? Let us know about your experiences!

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