Limpag: Breaking news-A A +A
Sunday, September 2, 2012
A MINUTE after Friday night’s earthquake, Twitter already provided a clue on its scale. It was felt in Davao, General Santos, Iloilo City and Makati City, reported Twitter users whom I follow. They felt the quake and quickly reported it on the micro-blogging platform. Barely had our neighborhood settled down when context was already available on the phone via a Twitter client.
When I wrote for Today a few years ago, I reported on an earthquake that hit Cebu.
After the shaking had subsided, I recalled reaching for my filofax and leafing through it to find the number of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, rushing to the nearest phone and calling up Phivolcs to get the needed data. When I got it, I then wrote the story, printed it out and then sent it via long-distance fax to Today’s office in Manila. It took me less than an hour to submit that story, which would be printed on the paper’s issue the next day, and at that time, it was rather quick.
Now it’s almost real-time.
Friday’s quake illustrated the power of a modern medium like Twitter to spread information. Users from all over the country were sending in reports, many with photos. Many users tagged their tweets on a unified hashtag of #phtrenchquake to simplify the organization and keeping track of information.
The speed by which information was spread on Twitter was so fast the United States Geological Survey (USGS) learned of the earthquake from the micro-blogging site rather than from their instruments, Bloomberg said. According to Douglas MacMillan’s article, USGS detected tweets about Friday’s quake one minute and seven seconds after it happened through its Tweet Earthquake Dispatch monitoring system.
The system, which monitors Twitter for mentions of “earthquake” and its equivalent in other languages, at times allows USGS to monitor events “before it can be detected by a seismic wave,” a seismologist told Bloomber.
Of course, news also spread in other social networks like Facebook. But I prefer following breaking stories on Twitter because it provides a better mobile experience.
As with the plane crash that killed Jesse Robredo, I didn’t see the need to immediately turn on TV news or AM radio, which I always used to do, to get updated on Friday night’s quake. I followed everything on my phone through Twitter.
With today’s tools and connectivity, you are able to be continually updated on news and things that matter to you. As I wrote this in the Sun.Star Cebu central newsroom in Cebu City last night, for example, Pag-asa just reported via Twitter that a thunderstorm was affecting Mandaue City and adjacent areas. True enough, when I looked out, it was raining heavily. Imagine that.
From being a device to call and text people with, the phone is increasingly becoming our main media device. It is also starting to become an important medium for news, particularly breaking news. That, according to usage studies and surveys, will be increasing exponentially in the coming years.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 03, 2012.