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From what I can tell, if you purchased a turkey in Silicon Valley over the past month, you were provided a free packet of "Twitter Kool-Aid" with purchase. It seems you can’t go two clicks without reading about how Twitter is going to cure cancer, reduce smog and send a chimp to the moon.
Today, my man MG over at VentureBeat has a post discussing, you guessed it, Twitter and its effect on mainstream media. MG notes, "But CNN isn’t quite as rosy about Twitter’s ‘reporting’ capabilities as Ingram — after all, they don’t want it taking their jobs. Noting the widespread rumors and inaccuracies that began to pop up on Twitter about the attacks alongside the true reports, CNN warns that while Twitter remains a useful tool for mobilizing efforts and gaining eyewitness accounts during a disaster, the sourcing of most of the news cannot be trusted."
While CNN camera and on-site staff might be worried about losing their jobs to this new "journalism" (I doubt it), the executives must be absolutely loving it. Think back just a few years — if a breaking story needed coverage, CNN (or any other news outlet) had to dispatch a team(s) to the location. There’s travel costs, transportation costs, technical costs, salaries, security, the list goes on. But if you can "borrow" content from online sources, then why not do so?
I’ve thought about this topic for quite a bit lately — especially as I watch people submit videos to iReport without any thought of compensation. While citizen journalism sites like Rachel Sterne’s GroundReport pay their reporters based on traffic, the best you can hope for from CNN is to get your name listed when they play your video. Sure, right now it’s all warm and cozy to think that you are "helping" get the word out, but soon, I believe that feeling will change. Especially as we watch CNN monetize the heck out of "our" content.
Earlier today I watched one of the CNN hosts look at photos in a slideshow on Flickr and show those photos to the CNN audience. What would it cost CNN to obtain those photos from local photographers/journalists? We see the same thing with regards to Twitter and YouTube. Heck, full TV shows have been crafted from videos on YouTube. Are the producers of those TV shows paying the people who produced those videos? I believe this will change in 2009.
Do reports on Twitter make up for a local person on live tv reporting on a situation? Of course not… not even close. But can it supplement coverage for free? Absolutely, and the news stations will suck the well dry very soon.
As for whether Twitter is "journalism" or a "news source", I will have more on that this weekend. Before the tryptophan hits I leave you with this, CNN realizes the power of these new media channels and what they can do for their bottom line.
Up next on the nextNYers video series is Rachel Sterne (no relation) from GroundReport. GroundReport is a NYC-based citizen journalism site with worldwide reach. I first came across GroundReport during the iPhone madness on launch. Rachel Sterne and her team were covering many of the Apple stores in NYC and the people waiting on line for hours.
GroundReport lets journalists from anywhere in the world share their stories and then share in the revenue generated from the traffic. The next piece of their business plan is to geographically target advertising and revenue sharing.
Here is Rachel’s video: