We all know that information travels fast on Twitter. And with the emphasis put on Twitter recently (due in large part to the Arab Spring protests) as the new conduit for real-time news, many argue that the social network is now making everyone a journalist. Just don’t say that to some people.
Whether or not you believe that Twitter is now a legitimate news wire and that everyone out there with a Twitter handle is a potential on-the-scene reporter, I”m sure that we can all agree that Twitter has become the go-to place to learn all the latest regarding a breaking story. And that covers your average Joe-schmo reporter as well as the @AP’s official Twitter account.
But when it comes to the breaking story of the weekend, TopsyLabs has some interesting information. It appears that the AP was scooped by about 45 minutes regarding the death of pop star Whitney Houston.
According to Topsy, Twitter user @AjaDiorNavy broke the Whitney Houston story at 4:15 PT, a full 42 minutes before the AP. Here’s the relevant tweet:
omgg , my aunt tiffany who work for whitney houston just found whitney houston dead in the tub . such ashame & sad 🙁
As you can see, this Tweeter seems to be related to the hotel worker that actually found Houston. Talk about on-the-scene reporting.
Another Twitter source also broke the news before the AP. User @chilemasgrande broke the new 27 minutes before with this tweet:
My sources say Whitney Houston found dead in Beverly hills hotel.. Not in the news yet!!
Although big Chorizo may have scooped the AP, he only has 385 followers. And his tweet has only been retweeted 33 times as of the writing of this article. The AP’s tweet, on the other hand, has received over 10,000 retweets. They broke the news via Twitter through a statement from Houston’s publicist.
BREAKING: Publicist Kristen Foster says singer Whitney Houston has died at age 48
Some more interesting stats regarding Twitter reaction to Whitney Houston’s death:
During the hour after the AP reported the news, there were 2,481,652 tweets and retweets on the topic. The traffic peaked at 5:23 PT with 61,227 tweets at one time. MSNBC had the top retweeted article about the death, with 13,000+ shares. Celebrities flooded Twitter with their shock and condolences. Lil Wayne’s Whitney Houston tweet had the most retweets with 29,000+. Justin Bieber’s tweet about Houston garnered the second most retweets with 15,000.
So what does all of this say about citizen journalism and Twitter? I’m not really sure – all that I know is that Twitter is an important medium for breaking news. Even though two citizen sources scooped the AP, it’s important that once the AP did break the news, it was Twitter that they chose to use.