Citizen media and crowdsourcing the news

Media was once a relatively closed industry, with newspaper giants such as the Sydney Morning Herald and South China Morning Post delivering the majority of news to consumers.

Then, as technology developed and consumers moved onto more convenient news sources, online media platforms became increasingly popular. From this trend, a surprising development has saturated the market.

Citizen media and crowdsourced news

Essentially, this refers to the idea that traditional media companies no longer control the flow of news across the world. Instead, consumer-publishing sites, such as Twitter, Reddit and Wikipedia, are leading the charge.

An average of 500 million Tweets are sent every day, according to the official Twitter blog. While many of these tweets contain no new information, some posts are breaking vital news stories.

From shark sightings in Western Australia to the recent announcement of Prince William and Kate's second child, Twitter has been at the forefront of news for some time.

This is because Tweets can be released in the moment. While traditional media providers are stuck writing articles, checking facts and publishing via print or online feeds, Twitter users are making the most of the instant messaging site.

With just 140 characters per Tweet and some posts being published by those at the scene, individuals can tweet their exact experience the moment it happens, providing unique access to breaking news stories.

This news requires a little more thought when posted on traditional media platforms. The typical timeline of a breaking news story is as follows: An event happens - a journalist sources the information - they fact check (hopefully) - they write an article that outlines what they know - they edit and then publish. The original article is typically a short piece, designed to break the news, which is then updated with further information once it becomes available.

By this time, however, thousands of tweets containing the same, if not more, information have been published. Online consumers already know the basic facts and only turn to traditional publications in search for more information.

How does this affect your media monitoring?

Ultimately, the biggest takeaway here is the importance to not discount citizen publishing when implementing media tracking strategies. In a matter of hours a single tweet can end up on news publications, shared to wide audiences and indeed lead entire breaking news stories.

Rather than relying on traditional sources for industry-relevant news, your processes need to understand the influence of social media users. In particular, Twitter supports the nature of the 24-hour breaking news cycle. Twitter never sleeps and neither should your social media monitoring strategy.

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