Will Twitter kill the media?

When journalists at Associated Press were reprimanded for breaking news on Twitter before posting it on the wires this week, the debate about how traditional media deal with the disruptive nature of social networks was again fueled.

Many of Twitter’s 175 million users now turn to the service for real-time, breaking news. But as anyone can create a profile and publish a tweet, a great story doesn’t always end up being true!

On the whole, people don’t want to have to double-source something they’ve seen on Twitter to make sure it’s true. Information consumers understand that a Tweet by someone who works for a major media brand has intrinsic credibility; it is much more likely to be true than something published from an unknown or non-professional profile.

Allowing journalists to be among the first to tweet a story, even if they are compelled to qualify what they write in terms of confirmation, helps build strong brand engagement for media brands with those 175 million users. That engagement is likely to create or reinforce brand loyalty, so those followers are more likely to read the full story in the Tweeter’s home media.

The premise that the traditional media sources will soon no longer be used for breaking news, doesn’t seem likely, as long as they are willing to embrace tools such as Twitter. If they do, it, combined with the value they can bring to news in terms of deep analysis, is likely to support their success into the future.