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BizReport : Trends & Ideas archives : July 10, 2013

Research: Twitter no match for newswires

Twitter is evolving but can the micro-blogging platform ever outperform or replace newswires? Recently released research findings reveal how the reporting of news events on Twitter differs from newswire services.

by Helen Leggatt

Recent research by University professors Andrew T. Stephen and Olivier Toubia, of Pittsburgh and Columbia respectively, revealed that Twitter could become less interactive as users begin to consume more content on the platform than they create.

It is this dynamic, they claim, that could lead to Twitter becoming less interactive and more of an advertising broadcast medium.

But could Twitter replace newswire services?

According to research by scientists at the Scottish Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, news agencies are still getting the news out quicker than Twitter. While Twitter users can add depth and differing viewpoints on news events, it is rare for a major incident to break on Twitter before newswires, found the research.

Miles Osborne of the University of Edinburgh's School of Informatics led the study, and pointed out that both newswires and Twitter had their own strengths.

"Our study has suggested that Twitter covers most of the events that are reported by newswire providers and that many events reported in Twitter are not mentioned in newswire," concludes the paper 'Can Twitter Replace Newswires for Breaking News?'.

"However, for the events that both streams report on, there is no evidence that one source leads the other in terms of breaking news. In general, while Twitter can break news before newswire in limited cases, for major events there is little evidence that it can replace newswire providers. On the other hand, the greater coverage of hyper-local news observed within Twitter supports the idea that it can be used for localized use-cases such as community policing or local search."

Instances when Twitter was first to break news were usually sport- and disaster-related events.

Image via Shutterstock

Tags: media, newswires, reporting, research, Twitter

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