Earthquake news broke on Twitter

St. Louis residents were awakened around 4:30 a.m. by a 5.2 magnitude earthquake centered several miles from West Salem, Illinois. The forceful shaking which lasted nearly a minute. As the shaking stopped, many St. Louis area Twitterers (and beyond) went to their keyboards to discuss damage. This was nearly 30 minutes before any word from the local media.

In St. Louis, there are two stories: the story of the earthquake, and the story of how its news was broken on Twitter by bloggers. You can literally read how the quake affected different Twitterers and how fast the seismic waves reached them by noting the timestamp on their Tweets. You read the news as it happened from firsthand accounts.

This is becoming a trend. Broadcast media has to gear up to report the story. The news has to come from the source to a reporter before it hits the air. There are even more steps to take in print media. Traditional journalism is to embrace credibility, immediacy, and accuracy.

Blogger Kathyp said on Twitter: “It’s a pretty sad when you check Twitter, not your local news, to see if that was indeed an earthquake.”

Seriously. No wonder print and TV news is going to pot. 10 minutes later, still nothing on the news,” said blogger Nominimom, and laterHalf hour later, it’s finally on the TV news.”

Many claim that mainstream media has lost credibility and accuracy. Many in the blogosphere have tried to pick up that yoke. Now it would seem that bloggers, especially through Twitter, have won immediacy.

*Update: 4.5 magnitude aftershock.


5 Responses to “Earthquake news broke on Twitter”

  1. And you figure the TV people, anyway, were all geared up, only 20min from airtime.

  2. When the aftershock hit, I literally went to Twitter to see if I was losing my mind paranoid or if it really did happen. The immediacy of Twitter, and the sense of community it has provided today for all of us in the earthquake, was rather reassuring.

  3. My only question is… “How could/did the Twitterati validate that it was indeed an earthquake? This would certainly be speculated with numerous and consistent reports, but who was able to validate and verify what was suspected? (Okay, two questions.)

  4. Good question, Rich. Several Twitter members did a quick search and found this website (among others which monitor seismic activity) which they linked on Twitter. We assumed it was an earthquake and those assumptions were verified by the linked sources.

    And then we all really got freaked out because we anticipate aftershocks!

  5. After calming down my kids, I immediately went to Twitter. In less than a minute, I was able to confirm that yes, that was a quake. After that it was all about shared reactions and not just from St. Louis. To me, Twitter is a word of mouth network on steroids. While you can only call one of your friends at a time in a crisis, Twitter lets you simultaneously converse with your entire network.

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