On #Ferguson

David Carr, writing for the New York Times:

For people in the news business, Twitter was initially viewed as one more way to promote and distribute content. But as the world has become an ever more complicated place — a collision of Ebola, war in Iraq, crisis in Ukraine and more — Twitter has become an early warning service for news organizations, a way to see into stories even when they don’t have significant reporting assets on the ground. And in a situation hostile to traditional reporting, the crowdsourced, phone-enabled network of information that Twitter provides has proved invaluable. [...] News organizations learned about the arrest and harassment of their reporters on Twitter and were able to take steps to get them out of jail. In the meantime, important information continues to flow out of Ferguson. As much as any traditional wire service, Twitter spread the remarkable work of David Carson, a photographer at The St. Louis Post-Dispatch who managed to take pictures despite being pushed around by both the police and the protesters. There is a visceral quality to Twitter that can bring stories to a boiling point. Ron Mott, an NBC correspondent and a social media skeptic, watched Twitter turn up the heat on Wednesday and tweeted, “As powerful as our press have been through years of our democracy, social media raises temp on public officials like never before.” My timeline as of late is just full of tweets about the situation in Ferguson, and rightfully so. The behavior of the police department there is reprehensible; citizens and journalists alike are being unfairly oppressed. This shit needs to stop. As for Twitter, I've long maintained that it's become a invaluable source of news for me; it's where I get the majority of breaking news --- in fact, I learned of Robin Williams's suicide last week via retweets. I think the news aspect is the main reason for my spending so much time in Tweetbot on my iOS devices (particularly on my iPhone): I check my feed constantly out of fear that I'll miss something important, and I don't want that. (For context's sake, you need only to read this piece I wrote a few years ago to see just how dramatically my views on Twitter have changed. It's incredible.) See also: this story by Matthew Panzarino for TechCrunch on how Twitter affects live coverage of sports, framed in context of this year's World Cup. It's a great complement to Carr's piece. (via John Gruber)