Breaking News in 140 characters or less

Before the internet, breaking the news was strictly the job of professionals who had extensive training, access and control of resources that us mere mortals did not. But now, the world of journalism could not be more different.  Do you have a smart phone and access to an internet connection? Well, congratulations you could now be a gate-keeper of a wealth of information and knowledge or- simply a pile of poorly researched, inaccurate dribble!

Posting on a website, blog or Facebook page – even writing an email – is a new form of publishing…(social media) enables the amateurisation of communication.  To sum up the position: the profession of journalism becomes obsolete because the social media have democratised publishing. (Dimitrov 2014, p.4)
Journalists At Play by Lisa Padilla (CC BY 2.0)

At the end of 2015 there were roughly 12.9 million internet subscribers in Australia, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The audience is now forgoing the more traditional methods of news in favour of the world of online.  News organisations and journalists themselves have been forced to adapt, or simply bust. Our changing requirements as readers, in combination with the saturation of technology is now defining what we are given by the news organisations. Kolodzy (2012, p.1) explains that the youth of today are favouring social media platforms such as Facebook, Google, YouTube, Twitter and Instant messaging as a way to receive news.  And as a youth of today (26 is still youthful!!), I would have to agree. My initial sources of news come from updates I see on my Facebook and Twitter news-feeds on my phone.

1201 sn3 by studio tdes (CC BY 2.0)

Alejandro (2010, p.9) explains that the concept of scoops and leads have changed with the development of social media. A journalist’s tips for a story are now coming from the What’s Trending sections of Twitter or Facebook.  We as an audience are becoming increasingly impatient, we want our information in real time– forcing journalists to increase their pace ten-fold. We are now fed snippets of information as journalists themselves discover it.  The risk of waiting until a full story is formed, is that News outlets may find themselves out-scooped by competitors- or even worse, a member of the general public.  How embarrassing!

There have been many instances of social media breaking news before news organisations can even dream of having a full article printed.  Check out my podcast for some notable examples of this.

So what’s the big deal?

Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 3.56.12 pm
2012, ‘How Social Media is Replacing Traditional Journalism as a News Source’- Source: Social Media Today

There are a number of concerns when we look to social media as a reliable news source. We see in the above graphic from Social Media Today, that reporting breaking news in 140 characters or less (Twitter, for example) can be quite limiting when it comes to telling a story.  As mentioned earlier, when everyone has access to reporting news on social media, communication can be amateur– so who are we to believe? This has happened many times when we have been fed reports of celebrity deaths that turn out to be nothing but hoaxes.  Huffington Post, in their article about journalism changing at the hands of social media, mention the importance of checking facts.

This new style of ‘citizen journalism’ can be a double edged sword at times and one of the clearest recent examples of this occurred on the site Reddit, as the search for the Boston Bombing suspect was taking place. Because of unchecked facts, a manhunt for the wrong man – who eventually wound up being found dead from an apparent suicide – began. (DeMers, 2013)

The benefits of social media as a news source are simple.  Anyone with access to these platforms now has a voice and the potential to report news. It’s a quick and immediate way to release news, and unlike bulky cameras and recording equipment- mobile phones can go just about anywhere.

Sambrook (cited in Alejandro 2010, p.42) says ‘Bearing witness is a journalist’s job. This is something technology cannot provide’.  Despite the positives of social media as a breaking news form, we must not lose sight of the value of a journalist’s credibility.


Dimitrov, R 2014, ‘Do social media spell the end of journalism as a profession?’, Global Media Journal: Australian Edition, Vol. 8 Issue 1, p1-16. 16p

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2015, Internet Activity, Australia, December 2015, cat. no. 8153.0, Australian Bureau of Statistics,  retrieved 23 August 2016, < >

Kolodzy, J 2012, ‘What’s old is new, what’s new is old’, ‘Practicing Convergence Journalism’, Routledge, p.1&5

Alejandro, J 2010, ‘Journalism in the age of Social Media’, Reuters Institute Fellowship Paper, University of Oxford, retrieved 23 August 2016, retrieved from : < >

Morejon, R 2012, ‘How Social Media is Replacing Traditional Journalism as a News Source’, Social Media Today, weblog post, retrieved 23 August 2016, < >

DeMers, J 2013, ‘How Social Media Is Supporting a Fundamental Shift in Journalism’, The Huffington Post, weblog post, retrieved 23 August 2016, < >

Podcast References:

In Soundcloud Description.


8 thoughts on “Breaking News in 140 characters or less”

  1. Hey Jess,

    Great headline, really drew me in when I saw this flash across my Twitter account. Nice use of the Creative Commons images and very on topic!

    I totally agree with your comments. I made mention in a recent blog post that I did for someone else that I recently watched this story on the ABC about the impact of social media on journalism and how much it has changed the face of traditional journalism.

    You mentioned bearing witness and the creditability of a journalist versus social media. Maybe this could be a topic you could expand on for your next blog post.

    Loved it!


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Jess,

    An incredible blog with right contents (quotes, pictures and tweets) and the flow was constant throughout the post which makes it more easy to understand. Smart use of podcast with interesting information on social media impact over journalism. Considering new technologies, periscope and Facebook live feed development is upcoming challenge for journalism business. Although twitter is still one of the major platform for sharing news but now a day it become too noisy that “sometime” it’s hard to find or follow the right lead of news or information. Liked the way you used pros and cons.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jess what a fantastic blog piece. The title is very catchy and clarifies exactly what you will be talking about. Your writing style is really engaging, hilarious but to the point. You have heaps of evidence in there which is great to see – the quotes are great and back your points. As someone who never reads the newspaper or watches the news I really appreciate how social media delivers me news in real time, without it I think I would be left in the dark! However, I understand the risk of not everything on my news feed being completely accurate. Great use of media, your podcast was great, clear and to the point with real examples. Thanks for some podcast inspo! Molly

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think this is a really important topic to discuss. Certainly citizen journalists are enabling the rapid reporting of information especially in crises, however, I do believe journalists will always have an important role in helping us to understand the context in which the news occurs as well as the background to newsworthy events.

    You chose a really snappy title for your post and I thought your use of additional media as well as your podcast really added to your post. Aside from hoax reporting, do you think the limit of 140 characters could lead to the dissemination of incorrect information and/or misreporting by journalists relying on social media reports during a crisis situation?

    I really enjoy your style of writing and look forward to more!


  5. I love this topic Jessica! It’s so interesting to see what our journalism has become in this day and age. It was very interesting to see how many inaccuracies can come from this method and how journalist’s loss of integrity could be jeopardised. Do you think this type of journalism will end traditional methods such as article writing in newspaper and magazines? You have an engaging and funny writing style which made me want to read more. I hope to see more of the same in your next blog post 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Jess,
    You really know how to immediately draw readers into your post. It’s the second time I am sold by your title and the first paragraph. I really like your fun, casual tone and having some jokes every now and then. Somehow it made me forget that this is a scholarly sourced piece of work.
    Great song choice for the intro of your podcast! It resonates the “Breaking News” on the title, and the way you speak sounds like a newsreader on TV.
    Your use of image for pros and cons inspire me to do the same in my future post to safe the word count.
    Keep up the good work, looking forward for more and more posts like this one from you.


  7. Excellent blog Jess! As a fellow youthful 26-year-old, I also find myself reading more ‘news’ from social media compared to traditional forms. Really, does anyone in our generation buy newspapers anymore? But yes, the lessened quality and fact-checking from amateurs is definitely a concern.

    I love your writing style; it flows so well. Amazing use of hyperlinks, images and media and they’re all relevant and positioned well in the text. I also love the style of your block quotes!

    My only comments are for the podcast, the intro and end music feels a bit too long. It’s best to keep it to 10 sec each. You could also try putting 5 sec of music in the middle of the podcast to break it up the speech between examples? Other than that, incredible work! I hope you keep blogging after this unit, I’m definitely a fan!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s