I Tweet, Therefore I Report

Brian Solis asks whether Twitter is journalism. I’ll throw another query into the mix – is a tweeter a reporter by the mere fact that he or she witnessed something? I blogged on a related subject Jan. 9 on the awful Saturday when Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in Arizona. In a post titled, “The Danger of Getting Our ‘News’ on Twitter”, I said that while I’m old enough to have gotten my news from Walter Cronkite, I now learn about world events from "@fillintheblank." And, as I said then, @fillintheblank hardly has the gray hair, much less the resume, to warrant the job. Of course, since that day, social media has been heralded as a key ingredient in the ouster of the Egyptian regime. And many of us are beholden to Twitter for the ability to learn what is going on in Bahrain and in other turbulent outposts. As you may recall, National Public Radio and CNN, among others, got the Giffords story wrong, claiming that the congresswoman had not survived her injuries. Tweets further spread the false reports that sadly and shockingly reached Giffords’ husband before he learned that she was alive. Does Twitter pressure journalists to rush to judgment? Who’s a journalist anyway? Obviously there is great value in the tweets emanating from Bahrain sent by Nicholas Kristof, New York Times columnist, and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner (@NickKristof). But anyone can be an iReporter, iWitness or iKnowItAll and have ample channels to “report” on something as important as life or death. Of course, we’re not all created equally but who’s to tell one from another? Suffice it to say that each of us with a voice that can be heard – and that means everyone with a Twitter account, blog, Facebook page, etc. – has to think before pushing the send button. You never signed up for that task, you say? Tough. It’s our responsibility to be responsible. -- Article first published as I Tweet, Therefore I Report on Technorati.