The role of Twitter in the reporting of news, particularly local news, has been an ongoing point of discussion over the last few years, especially as many news providers are struggling to define their commercial placing in the new media landscape.
They will be heartened by some research from Scotland however revealing that mainstream sources are still the best place to go for the news as it breaks.
The research, conducted by scientists at the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, studied over 51 million tweets over an 11 week period. They then compared this content to output from sources such as CNN, BBC and New York Times.
There were noticeable joins between news ala Twitter and the news as reported by the big boys. For instance, there were a large number of tweets for stories that were also reported by the big sources, but also a decent sized chunk of tweets about news that was largely ignored by the media.
What is of interest however is that there was no evidence that Twitter was better at breaking stories than the large news channels. The only subjects for which Twitter would regularly beat them to the punch was in sport and disaster-related events.
“So the research clearly suggests that the main value for Twitter in a news context was in providing live coverage of very time sensitive events, and also in providing coverage of events that are generally too small for the main channels to worry about.” Dr Miles Osborne said.
So it seems clear that the news value of Twitter is in providing live coverage of very time sensitive news events, and also covering local stories that are too niche for bigger outlets to worry about.