Tag Archives: heathrow airport

My Twitter Epiphany

11 Nov

By Ian Kearney

Only a matter of weeks ago I joined Twitter and subscribed to the various news agencies, merely as a college exercise, and already Im using this social media tool as a first source for all my online journalism needs.

On my last trip home to Ireland I sat in an average restaurant in Heathrow airport, paying above average prices for below average food.

Affixed on the wall in front of me a plasma television broadcasting Sky News.

“Breaking news – Suspect packages found on planes at UK airport and in Dubai.” Not the words you want to see on any news report, especially if you are at an airport and even more so if you’re a nervous flyer.

Sky News Television coverage from East Midlands airport

The airport was noisy and I couldn’t quite grab the details of the story, needless to say Sky’s Steve Dixon was infinitely calmer than I was. Then as instinctively as changing gears in a car I pulled out my smart phone, logged into my Twitter account and intercepted updates from Sky Breaking News, BBC Breaking News, Itv News, Channel 4 News and various other news agencies.

As the various agencies tweeted away I was finding out the latest updates soon after the newsrooms themselves and from what I could gather before the venerable Steve Dixon, himself.

I could have used the internet on my phone to go to any news agency’s website but instead I chose to go straight to Twitter.

Why? Quite simply Twitter gave me the ability to check what all the agencies were saying all at once and in 140 characters rather than having to go in and out of each website reading through reams of copy.

In March 2009 Sky News hired Ruth Barnett as their “Twitter” or “Social Media Correspondent” and earlier this year Journalism.co.uk revealed that Sky News had installed Tweetdeck on all their reports computers in what Ms Barnett described as a process of embedding social media throughout the whole team.

This is as clear a sign as any that social media and online journalism go hand to hand and are here to stay.

Sky's Breaking News Twitter account instantly updating the suspect package story.

To get back to Heathrow, when it emerged that the suspect package was on a runway in East Midlands and of no immediate threat I breathed a sigh of relief, ordered a stiff drink and made my way to the departures gate, for which I was already running late.

A whole multitude of questions arises in this field; how is social media affecting online journalism? How is journalism affecting social media? Is social media changing how we source stories? Is social media changing the way we consume news?

This blog will attempt to address some of these questions as well as others in the area.

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