My father’s advice when I was growing up was, “Believe none of what you hear and only half of what you see!”. Good advice then and still valid now. The quality of news content has always been subject to interpretation and influenced by external forces. Recent events – the voter uprising in Iran and Michael Jackson’s death have brought Twitter and other online news reporting services to the fore-front. One of the battles is between traditional news headline providers and the new instant online headline publishers. Mainstream media – broadcast and print – argue that Twitter and other online based headlines lack support and validity being not much more than rumours and gossip. Some of mainstream news media isn’t any different – it just takes a longer time to reach us.
The instant as-it-happens news from Twitter and other online sources has its value even if it is a little wobbly. Using that as a starting point we can then pursue the background information and flesh out the details. Instant news isn’t a modern phenomenon. Radio and TV both usurped newspapers and magazines in covering breaking news stories. The web just closes the time gap a little tighter.