Is twitter a valid newsroom for Northern Ireland ?

Since the dawn of Newspapers people have rushed to the local store to grab the morning headlines, then came along radio and people could tune in hourly to get their fix of local and national news.  During war time people stayed glued to their radio’s to find out where the Natzi’s  had bombed next and how the troops were getting on in Europe.

One thing has remained constant forever, people crave news and people want to be the first to know.

We had it really good there for a while, were we could hop on to numerous news sites and grab our fix but times are changing and newspapers are at the advent of charging for online content.  So were do we look to get our news fix ?

Last night in Northern Ireland there was a fair bit of dissident activities across Belfast and Armagh with a couple of bomb scares and suspicious devices.  I read about this first on twitter, well what I actually read was a number of accounts of people hearing an explosion just off the Antrim road at a TA camp in North Belfast, more reports of explosions came from the east of the city.  I wanted confirmation of this but at 12.30 at night were was I to look? BBC News NI website had not been updated in hours, UTV was the same, Radio Ulster have no news updates during the night, The BBC news channel had flipped to BBC America and Sky News had flipped to CBS.

I was in the dark and twitter was my only source of news, the only problem with this is whilst it may have its finger on the pulse and be a super fast broadcast medium, it is not validated and people can literally say whatever they want and that is exactly what people did last night.  I cannot find any information on the TA base bomb this morning so can only assume that this was tweeted by mindless idiots who are just as bad for our small society as the Real IRA.

There is no doubt that twitter has worked well in the past for global news, Barrack Obama announced his running mate to his twitter fans before the press and the news of Michael Jackson’s death was broken on twitter an hour before the mainstreams picked it up but can it work in Northern Ireland.

This question proves two things.

1.  There is no valid news sources in Northern Ireland for around 4 hours in the dead of night

2.  Until a news story is confirmed by the mainstreams, it is just speculation and rumour.

So what is the answer ?  Well it would be nice to have a BBC reporter on call in the dead of night to investigate twitter stories and confirm them but is this a good use of taxpayers cash ?

What is the answer ?

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6 Comments on “Is twitter a valid newsroom for Northern Ireland ?”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by russellmcquillan.com. russellmcquillan.com said: Is twitter a valid newsroom for Northern Ireland ? comments on the post please #fb: http://wp.me/pef4c-fD […]

  2. mj says:

    You really think that having people mindlessly tweeting on the Internet is as bad as militant socialist who kill people with bombs?

    On the main point, most people are asleep at 4 am. Maybe Lyra and her band will figure out a way to report news through the night.

  3. Surely the point of these bombs is to create panic and confusion. Fear as it were. Is spreading rumours about non existent bombs not as bad ? Does it not cause the same panic and confusion.

    4am people are people to Matt ! :)

  4. Mark Weir says:

    Last night I was one of the people that couldn’t get back to my apartment on Alfred street and the first thing I loaded up was Tweetie to see what was going on and already got information. I’m so used to it now I already know not to bother check BBC NI site or U.TV. I think it’s great as long as the information is accurate to a degree, in minutes I had information from my followers who were nearby, I seen twitpics of the bomb disposal robot I was closer to the action than any news report would have been.
    In essence I needed information last night and only twitter could provide it to me. It’s a true sign of the times

  5. There was a quick mention on the news this morning that a device (was it a blast bomb?) was thrown against the window of a house in north Belfast last night. It wasn’t connected to dissident activity.

    in many ways, Twitter served you badly last night as its speculation was perhaps over the top and inaccurate. Is no news, better than inaccurate news? (Not sure of the answer to that!)

  6. Is no news better than inaccurate news ?

    Interesting question Alan. I guess I also do not know the answer to that, with no news I guess I never would have heard of it so would have been none the wiser but I guess it was also good to know that something was going on, although it turned out as you have said not to be connected to the threat.

    Hard to know, lets see if more accurate items come through the channel.


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