I spent more time than usual this weekend parsing a Bloomberg BusinessWeek post entitled “Is Twitter Journalism?”
I’ve heard this rhetorical question floated around the web several times before and I’m going to have a more fleshed out conversation about it when this thing launches in a a month or so, but I admit that I find this debate strange. In my rapidly aging brain, this isn’t really a question. Twitter is not journalism. Twitter is a delivery system.
When I hear the question of Twitter’s place in the modern media phrased as “Is Twitter Journalism?” this way one sentence comes to mind:
Journalists often use Twitter to quickly disseminate information as an extension of content creation. Sometimes, they provide links to more fleshed out stories. Sometimes, its just a quick thought or conversation starter. But they also use websites, newspapers, TV and Radio waves for the same purpose.
The important element in that mix is the human expressing the information. He or she is making something. Regardless of the format in which its distributed, its the practicer rather than the mechanism that makes things work.
The question really should be, can a journalist do his proper job using only twitter as his means of dissemination? At this point, I have to say no. Imagine the lack of context and gaping holes you’d be left trying to fill. You can’t live off Twitter alone anymore than you could live off the news crawl alone.
What Twitter has done is fill a hole in our interconnections. We’ve made mobile communications so ubiquitous that it can fill information gaps in our collective consciousness quicker and more completely than ever before. Just a few weeks ago, we got live images, video and thoughts directly from the front lines of a country falling apart. We would not have had the same blanket information stream without Twitter. That changes the game of journalism in some ways, but it doesn’t change the job itself. The recipe for good journalism remains the same. Its just that the way the biscuits get to the table is a lot different.