At OWS, Twitter and Questlove Reported Faster Than Traditional News
Late on Monday, Nov. 14, just hours before police raided and evicted Occupy Wall Street protestors from Zuccotti Park under a total media blackout, one man scooped the story before anyone else: Questlove, drummer for the roots.
“Omg,” he tweeted to his 1.76 million followers, “drivin down south st near #ows. Somethin bout to go down yo, swear I counted 1000 riot gear cops bout to pull sneak attack #carefulyall”.
Occupiers responded, skeptical of the musician’s claims, but they certainly got the message. Soon after, they would see he was right.
Even the most efficient news services couldn’t beat their own employees’ tweets. A reporter and photographer for the Associated Press wire service were both arrested during the police action that night, and broke the news on personal Twitter accounts.
Days later, their superiors at the AP reprimanded them for not reporting the story through the wire first. Despite a wave of criticism from journalists, media, and the public, the AP editors defended their actions, saying the reporters violated company policy on social media by not reporting to the supervised wire first.
Brian Stelter, a writer for the New York Times, criticized the AP editors, tweeting, “So shouldn’t the wire speed up?!”
News outlets are already facing criticism that they are sacrificing quality and accuracy to try to keep up with the 24 hour news cycle. By citing Twitter rumors, the mainstream media has already in recent years falsely reported that airlines would fly doctors to Haiti for free and that scientists were predicting a major earthquake to hit California within days. The microblogging site also frequently announces celebrity deaths that are untrue.
What do you think? Should new outlets stick to their policies, or should they ease up on reporters breaking news on social media?