• Andrew Collins

Whitney is dead! Announced by a Twittizen, tweeted by thousands, re-tweeted by millions.

Updated: Jun 19, 2019

The news of Whitney Houston’s death yesterday is just one more in a long line of events to have been announced to the world, not by a Breaking News Bulletin, but by a series of posts on TWITTER.


The singer’s death was reported on Twitter 27 minutes earlier than official news sources, according to yesterday’s Mashable report. Sure, 27 minutes don’t make much difference to spread the news of a celebrities’ sudden death, but they could be vital in case of natural disaster or civil war.

This makes me wonder, with global netizens turning their backs on conventional, credible media sources for their news and looking to Twitter to update them on the world’s latest scandals or disasters, are we entering a new era for news broadcasting, where by the time the 6 o’clock news comes on, the majority of people have already read AND SHARED the headlines via Social Media.

It is almost impossible to keep up with the speed of sharing which Twitter facilitates. News of Miss Houston’s death was spread at a rate of more than 1,000 tweets per second, with 2.5 million tweets and re-tweets JUST in the first hour. Just in case you hadn’t registered those numbers, that’s 60,000+ tweets in one minute.

Now, these fancy figures are impressive, but one could argue that in the news industry, speed counts for nothing without credibility. Mashable reader commented “Even if the users shown tweeted it first, I wouldn’t believe it for a second until I heard it from a reputable media outlet, so in the end, who really cares who broke the news first?”.

However I would argue that it’s not ‘who broke the news first’ that matters.  It’s the speed at which this piece of history reached millions of people…..and then millions more through the ease of sharing. What started on Twitter then reached Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Youtube, Foursquare and even Weibo in China!

One thing is for sure. The growing power of Social Media threatens to compromise our traditional news cycle and the notion of conventional journalism as a whole. More and more news outlets are now implementing strict social media guidelines like this one, to prevent their employees from using social media inappropriately, in other words to restrict them from leaking major headlines into cyberspace.

The question is…how long will they be able to hold off this social media revolution?

(Read the full Mashable report here)

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