When breaking news happens on Twitter

Chip Oglesby bio photo By Chip Oglesby

Today two people died in a murder-suicide at the University of South Carolina. It was very sad to see the tweets start rolling in shortly after lunch time today. After seeing the first tweet below, I hopped into Twitter Search to see what was going on:

Really hoping everyone [@UofSC](https://twitter.com/UofSC) is okay. — Rita Fitzgerald (@ritamkfitz) [February 5, 2015](https://twitter.com/ritamkfitz/status/563402454357008387)

Rolling out in real-time was a play by play of exactly what happened at USC during this frightening ordeal. News was being shared by amateurs faster than the established local media could collect, analyze and report on it.

In a weird way, it reminded me of why I was initially drawn to Twitter in 2008. This was before “personal brands” and the notion of constantly and mindlessly sharing tweets; back when I actually cared about being a part of social media.

One of the first times I remember going to Twitter to find out what was happening was during the president’s address to joint congress on September 9, 2009.

While President Obama was addressing Immigration Reform, Rep. Joe Wilson from South Carolina blurted out “YOU LIE!”

Within moments of this happening, Twitter was ablaze postulating and then confirming exactly who it was. This was an entire hour before the newsroom was even aware of who it was and could have something on the internet about it.

That was the first time that I remember thinking “Twitter could actually be worth something for collecting breaking news.” There will always be a need to verify before reporting something as fact, but I’ve watched for more than five years as news outlets struggle with social media.

Today was a sobering and somber reminder of what the immediacy of Twitter can be.