NYFD Reading the News, source- New York Times

On May 1st, 2011 Twitter grew up and became an important source of news reports. I am sure many of you have already heard how twitter account @reallyvirtual tweeted the raid on Osama Bin Laden while it was happening. Well it’s 1/2 true, he tweeted about a helicopter and some blasts, but not about the raid as no one knew exactly what all that action meant at the time.

Combine that story within the story to this one:

@KeithUrbahn who lists himself as “Chief of Staff, Office of Donald Rumsfeld, Navy Reserve intel officer, and owner of two miniature dachshunds. Opinions are my own,” tweeted at 10:25 EST So I’m told by a reputable person they have killed Osama Bin Laden. Hot damn.

Thousands watching cable news networks or their local television stations were seeing only postponements by the White House to the upcoming Presidential address, while Twitter was ablaze with the the news already.


After waiting patiently, these television viewers were shown live feeds from Washington D.C. showing crowds gathering. But none of the networks had, or thought to send, crews to Ground Zero or Times Square right away.

Crowds Gathering at the White House

Again, twitter was there! Twitter account @nettyboops was on the scene, along with many others, covering the story, sharing tweets, photos and videos of the moment. These are moments forever captured by a regular individual, not a news crew with an agenda. It was a fabulous moment in history made even better because of twitter.

Here is a sample of @nettyboops many photos of the night:

You can click on the images to view all of her photos from that night.

A solemn element amidst celebration ... Anonymous vigil on Vessey Street


New Yorkers climbing telephone poles, holding signs that say "Obama-1, Osama-0" and "Thank You Obama!

Prior to this incredible day, Twitter also broke or helped to break many stories about the Middle East revolts, the crisis in Libya and the March 11th quake in Japan.

The Osama story aside, the American “main stream” media lost interest in the other stories and resumed “normal” reporting on mostly politics shortly after the initial events. Twitter became the only source of immediate news at that time. Many a night during the Japan quake and nuclear disasters, I would be following streams on twitter about breaking news, then an hour or more later the cable news stations would pick up on it. From the reactors failing to reactors explosions to large aftershocks, all were tweeted before the “big boys” on cable broadcast the stories.

Now to be fair, it’s up to you, the twitter user, to investigate a tweet about a said event. Not everyone on twitter is factual, not all tweets are either! That aside, after May 1st I am expecting twitter feeds to be up in bars, airports and any other social gathering places that now have CNN or FOX news stations being shown on the television screens.

The world has become a much smaller place, and last night proved it so! Twitter has validated itself as an important tool in regards to not only self promotion and networking, but also as a source of information and timely news reporting.

If you are not on twitter yet, chances are you will be soon. It’s almost to the point where you have to be on there to grab the most timely information on anything you are interested in.

You can read more about this in the The 7 Stages of News in a Twitter and Facebook Era article on GIGAOM.

Credit also to @24kmedia and gigaom.com