Twitter breaks Chinese earthquake news

12 May

The Globe and Mail’s Mathew Ingram wrote about Twitter’s news breaking success today as well.   If you don’t read Mathew’s blog it’s worth checking out for a Canadian perspective on technology.  Here’s what Mathew had to say today:

“Like many others, I woke up this morning to news of a disaster in China: a magnitude 7.8 earthquake in the southwest, with thousands of people either dead or injured. Unlike some, I didn’t get the news from the radio or TV — I got it from Twitter, a group-chat/instant messaging client that has been gaining in popularity as a real-time news application. Much like the forest fires in California last fall and other recent news events, Twitter became one of the main sources of on-the-ground reporting — even before CNN started picking up what was happening, and with more personal detail. According to Search Engine Land, Twitter even beat the U.S. Geological Survey, which tracks quake readings.

During such times, Twitter seems like a “crowd-sourced” reporting tool, much like what of Vancouver has created but with cellphones and 140 character messages as the medium. In any disaster, one of the first things people look for is the eyewitness account, the first-person description, the man on the scene. Whenever something like the earthquake happens, thousands of editors and producers at newspapers, radio programs and TV networks clog the phones trying to reach someone, anyone, who can provide a personal account: they call homes, schools, stores, friends, distant relatives. What was it like? Where were you when it happened? What happened next?

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