To the extent that Twitter is offering news consumers of all kinds access to the information they want — regardless of whether that information consists of “user-generated content” or links to other media outlets — it is a competitor. And to the extent that it can offer better curation or aggregation or filtering or targeting of that content, it will win.
What Matthew’s referring to is Twitter’s new hashtag pages that aggregate posts around a topic (such as this one for Nascar) along with the hiring of Mark Luckie as its creative content manager for journalism and the media.
Nascar example aside, the idea is that if breaking news happens, Twitter will be in a better position to launch a well curated, breaking news hashtag page than most (all?) media companies will be able to create and or curate content around the same.
Add to this what Dave Winer wrote last week:
A few years ago I was so sure that Twitter would be competing with news orgs that I urged them to start their own realtime networks to compete with Twitter. Just in case I’m right…
We’re still in the early days of online distribution of news. Twitter chose a cute little icon, like Mickey Mouse or Winnie the Pooh. But the sweetness and light will fade when Twitter gets competition. With news orgs going for very little money, and with tech networks becoming sink-holes for cash, how long before the money jumps the gap and Twitter buys a struggling news organization. Look at it this way. How long before Twitter carries exclusive content. Wouldn’t it be smart to develop some options?
Well, if you’re waiting for the news industry to get smart about tech, my guess is you’ll wait a very long time.
Tomorrow’s news will look very different from yesterday’s, and the major players will be very different as well. It might not be Twitter but both Dave and Matthew have very good points.
Be wary. But don’t be afraid. — Michael
If you ask a bunch of political journalists to identify the biggest change in political reporting this election cycle, the answer comes in a short burst: “Twitter!” The microblogging service was founded in 2006 but played little if any role in the 2008 campaign. Now, however, it has become an indispensable tool.
When Arianna Huffington started the Post in 2005, she was known for very little other than her marriage to Republican congressman Michael Huffington, some political aspirations, and her web of social connections to a wide variety of people in the media, politics and business communities. When she started the website, as media consultant Jeff Jarvis noted in a blog post, it was widely ridiculed as a lightweight plaything for a rich socialite. It certainly didn’t look like much, and the content that appeared there — a strange and eclectic mix of commentary from film-makers, actors, bureaucrats and left-leaning intellectuals — didn’t appear to be much of a competitor for anything, let alone an established and dominant media player like the New York Times.
But thanks to some funding from Softbank and Greycroft Partners, and the web savvy of people like Jonah Peretti and CTO Paul Berry, The Huffington Post just kept growing and growing, and made use of all the social tools at its disposal, from comments and Twitter to Facebook’s social graph plugins. As more prominent writers started to post their thoughts on the site, that attracted others — even though the network didn’t pay any of them anything, something that has been a source of much controversy. But as some have pointed out, The Huffington Post didn’t have to pay anyone; thousands of people have been more than happy to write for nothing, the same kind of phenomenon that has helped other sites like Talking Points Memo grow from single blogs into new-media powerhouses.