The microblogging service Twitter has once again shown its value as a reporting tool as The New York Times’ Brian Stelter became the latest journalist to use it to report on the news, this time from the tornado stricken city of Joplin, MO.
Stelter, who is a self-described weather geek, didn’t plan on going to Joplin. But as he says in a post from Friday, he wondered if he shouldn’t volunteer to go there during a flight from New York to Chicago last Monday morning.
That idea quickly turned into a plan and by the afternoon he was in Joplin.
Equipped with just his cellphone and laptop, Stelter managed to make his way through Joplin and report in what he saw in real time, mainly through Twitter. The Times decided that the tweets were too good not to be shared with its readers and published a link to his Twitter feed on the front page of the paper’s website.
Stelter’s own evaluation of the situation was that he did his best reporting on Twitter, at least until he finally managed to get a stable Internet connection and file more complete stories.
Thanks to Twitter, Stelter was able to report in real time what he saw, which would have been virtually impossible to do in any other way given the spotty cell phone and Internet coverage in the aftermath of the tornado.
Twitter won’t replace journalism in it’s entirety, but it continues to show its value to the field of journalism by bringing news instantly to people who are otherwise cut off due to natural disasters, government intervention, etc. It is helping to bring transparency to a rather opaque world.