Tiger Woods was involved in a car accident earlier today. Preliminary reports suggested he was admitted in a serious condition, but that has proven to be slightly over-dramatic. He’s actually fine and sustained minor cuts and bruises. However, the big issue is how his news was reported, and how social media once again beat the traditional news outlets to the story.
Twitter, along with other social media outlets such as Facebook and MySpace, has become as essential to the distribution of news as any newspaper, TV station, or news channel. The Web is already squeezing the life out of the newspaper industry, because who needs to pay money to read news that’s already a day out of date when the Internet offers everything for free Until Rupert Murdoch gets his way) and bang up-to-date.
You only have to look at the death of Michael Jackson earlier this year. TMZ broke the news that Jackson was in poor health hours before the traditional media would touch it. The celebrity news site risked getting the news slightly wrong but actually managed to scoop a huge breaking story.
Twitter has been at the forefront of many such breaking news stories in recent months. And the latest is the car accident involving golfer Tiger Woods.
Early reports suggested Woods had hit a fire hydrant and a tree near his Florida home. And as noted by TechCrunch, while traditional media was still sitting on the story, the @breakingnews Twitter feed had broken the news. Other people began retweeting the news and the story was all over Twitter before the likes of CNN had even reported it.
Twitter wins again. However, the only slight problem is the news was slightly incorrect. Rather than being in a serious condition, Tiger Woods was treated for cuts and bruises before being released from hospital.
So, by all means use social networking sites as a source for news – they are often light years ahead of traditional media. But part of that is because traditional media organizations like to get their facts 100 percent correct (well, maybe 95 percent) before publishing. It therefore comes down to whether you value speed or accuracy in your news.