Blogs & Comment

Twitter and the dying media

I’m still wrapping my head around Twitterbut so is everyone else, even the so-called social media experts, and that is precisely what makes it so fascinating. Twitter is a surprisingly deep and malleable medium (I hesitated to type that last word). There are many reasons for this, but one is because it seamlessly spans the gulf between social networking on a computer and messaging on mobile devices.
No, Twitter isn’t making money yet, and only recently does it seem to have worked out its issues with crashing. But hey, it’s still at the experimental stage. Maybe it always will be at some kind of experimental stage.
I’ve watched with some interest as mainstream media start to tap into the Twitterstream. Sure, the Globe and Mail’s TV critic, John Doyle, pokes funat how The National‘s Susan Ormiston and Peter Mansbridge’s chuckled last week at comments posted to Twitter during last week’s political crisis in Ottawa. But for a brief moment on Thursday, while the country waited for Prime Minister Stephen Harper to emerge from his meeting with the Governor General, #coalitionand #Canadawere among the most-tweeted subjects on all of Twitter. It is an obvious source of instant reaction to any event, and a pretty simple way to have real-time dialogue with an audience. Even Rex Murphy’sSunday afternoon CBC radio show, Cross Country Checkup, started using ityesterday.
Personally, one use I have of Twitter is to watch headlines from the major news outlets, which are automatically fed from their websites. Troll around on Twitter for awhile, and you’ll come across lots of traditional media outlets starting to use it.
But how’s this for irony: the “old” media (as a magazine writer, I am obligated to put that in quotes), can also use Twitter to keep up on its own shrinking ranks. @themediaisdyingtracks the career movements of journalists in the print and broadcast industries, as well as job cuts. A selection from over the weekend:

“THE MIAMI HERALD is being shopped around to be sold / is up for sale.”
“BROKER magazine is no longer publishing.”
“METRO has canned 4 Canadian reporters quietly. Expect more layoffs.”

Is it true? Maybe, maybe not. Twitter can also be a modern day rumour mill, but gone global and instant.
No wonder the mainstream media is paying attention to it. If there is one thing reporters love, it’s rumoursespecially about their own industry.
And where did I hear about themediaisdying? On Twitter, of course. I follow Kaan Yigit, a senior team member of Solutions Research Groupin Toronto, a consulting firm that researches entertainment, media, and technology. Yigit tweeted about it this morning. (For the uninitiated: on Twitter, “to follow” is to subscribe to someone’s messages, which are known as “tweets,” these are limited to 140 characters in length.)
By the way, you can follow me on Twitter: @AndrewWahl.