For journalists, the real question is whether Twitter is more than just the latest info-plaything. Does it “work” in any meaningful way – as a news-dissemination channel, a reporting and source-building tool, a promotional platform? Or is it merely, to buy the caricature, just a banal, narcissistic and often addictive time suck?
The unsatisfying answer: It all depends.
While celebrity journalists like George Stephanopoulos send out Tweets about breakfast, some news organizations actually capitalize on Twitter’s idiosyncrasies to benefit media consumers. Portland’s Oregonian (and Oregonlive.com I might add), provides an example of the latter:
[Twitter’s] speed and brevity make it ideal for pushing out scoops and breaking news to Twitter-savvy readers. The Oregonian in Portland may have been the mainstream media pioneer in this regard; it began posting its own links and aggregating citizen tweets about flooding and road closures during heavy storms in central Oregon in late 2007, when Twitter barely had 500,000 users nationwide. Other newspapers have subsequently used Twitter to post swift-changing updates following natural disasters in their areas.