The news that broke on the morning on 14 February 2013 shocked South Africans and the world. South African Olympics and Paralympics runner Oscar Pistorius had shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, apparently thinking that she was a burglar.
The news was initially tweeted by the Afrikaans Beeld newspaper but it wasn’t until Talk Radio 702’s tech journalist Aki Anastasiou picked up the tweet that news of the tragic event began to spread quickly.
Having broken the news on Twitter, the Beeld newspaper set to work on a more conventional print and online news item regarding the event. But how significant was Twitter’s role in spreading the news of the Oscar Pistorius shooting and can the micro-blogging service serve as a substitute for more conventional news outlets?
Hectic News @Beeld_Nuus is reporting that Oscar Pistorius shot & killed his girlfriend this morning thinking she was a burglar.
— Aki Anastasiou (@AkiAnastasiou) February 14, 2013
Both Aki Anastasiou and World Wide Worx MD Arthur Goldstuck think that Twitter can play an important role in the news media but there are some caveats involved. Anastasiou, speaking to IT News Africa, said that Twitter can be a powerful news media tool “…provided the sources that are sending the tweets are credible. Twitter is like a massive spider web, many journalists and media organisations today have thousands of followers. These followers are eyewitnesses to events as they happen and when they happen, they share that information, making gathering of breaking news very powerful because of Twitter’s immediacy.”
Goldstuck followed this up by saying “Twitter is not a credible news source in itself, but when credible news sources use it to break news, it is the most powerful news breaking medium yet.”
Both agree that the Beeld were correct in tweeting the news, saying that print media now works “hand in hand” with a digital platform. The fact that Beeld had facts in hand to support their breaking of the Pistorius story was extremely important however. Anastasiou warns that unverified information “can be disastrous” when using something like Twitter to break news.
Source: IT News Africa