Several newspapers took advantage of the April Fool’s holiday today by publishing stories that claimed that the publications would now be publishing news exclusively through Twitter. One local newspaper, North Carolina’s Mountain Xpress, even went so far as to load a Twitter feed onto their homepage that is still being updated with news from their staff claiming they’ve created the world’s first Twaper (twitter-powered newspaper).
The Guardian stated in their April Fool’s article that Twitter has "radically democratized news publishing, enabling anyone with an internet connection to tell the world when they are feeling sad, or thinking about having a cup of tea." Funny indeed, but are these articles really that far off from the future of newspapers?
As the Guardian article points out, citizen journalism is on the rise as evidenced by the Hudson plane crash in which Twitter provided the first on-scene photos and the passenger that sent real-time updates when his plane crashed outside of Denver. With many newspapers folding around the country, the way in which the public receives its news is bound to change. But is Twitter the answer? I think for local news publications it could be part of the answer. In small communities, it’s impossible to stay on top of everything going on and for some local newspapers a supplemental Twitter feed might be beneficial, giving a voice to the community and providing a place for residents to share information. But ultimately, a Twitter-based newspaper does not allow for the time and research that is necessary of investigative journalism.
In his letter to the readers, Mountain Xpress publisher Jeff Fobes states that "In today’s fast-paced, multitasking, pause-and-you’ve-fallen-behind world, most of us simply don’t have the time to read long, rambling, 2,000-word print pieces."
He may have a point but most of us don’t need reporters to tell us what happened - we do need them to tell us why.