Today, Southern California was rocked with an 5.6 earthquake. While it’s definitely newsworthy, social media prevailed at getting the message out first over mainstream media (MSM). Sometimes, it’s the raw, unedited content from those affected that can be the story. However, MSM can help carry the message out for others.
I don’t think Social Media is the end-all be-all of newsworthy events. If it was, news stories would be limited to 140 characters and there would be several “me too!” responses for every story; no matter if it was legitimate or not.
Despite this limitation of relying on people for news, there has to be value in the timeliness of breaking events on social networks. Services like Twitter are a great way to keep the pulse on what people think. No, I’m not talking about data-mining or crowdsourcing, per se; I mean merely knowing what’s happening to people in the current state of mind.
Pictured above, is a graph detailing the events of the Earthquake in CA that occurred today at 11:42PM. The first tweet on the earthquake was posted on Twitter only seconds after the natural event. While not everything on the Web is true, information distributed en masse, is reliable. Kudos to VentureBeat for keeping track of this stuff.
It would be a dream come true for social media evangelists if everyone was able to have the credibility of Tom Brokaw or Barbara Walters when breaking news or other sensitive topics. Since that’s not the case, real journalists should be listening attentively to social circles on the Web, do the investigative work and report the story and notify the Wires as they should.
It’s not a question over which news method is the quickest or the most reliable. MSM has its benefits — scale and consistency; while Social Media offers abstract, personal accounts. Rather, the question is how do we get MSM to fully embrace social media and how social media can leverage MSM.
What do you think?