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8 News Stories that Broke on Twitter

From the Twitters to the presses in minutes

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Tweet from a bot on mars

Tweet from a bot.

Now, more than ever, it seems young people are taking an interest in the news. With the onset of social media, many young people have taken the news into their own hands and transformed how stories are acquired and shared. Citizen journalism is the perfect example of this. Anyone with a smartphone has the capability of capturing an image or video and sharing it with their network before a news van even arrives on the scene.  

Gone are the days of lengthy, word-filled features. People now look for short, straight-to-the-point, 144 characters or less tweets for their information. If you’re looking for an overview of terms on Twitter, look no further than to our Twitter Glossary.

Some journalists have gotten so good; you don’t even need to click on the accompanying link to learn all you need to know about a story! As Twitter evolved, so did the news industry and many have taken the opportunity to revamp their production output, training their own team in social media practices. Still, we “citizens” have the fantastic power of breaking a story with a single tweet. Power to the people, I say!

In celebration of us normal folk, I thought I would share a list of eight amazing stories that broke on Twitter first.  

8. In 2010, Japanese journalist Kosuke Tsuneoka was kidnapped by Muslim radicals in northern Afghanistan for five months. Fascinated by his new phone, Tsuneoka’s captors asked for his help on how to work it. He cleverly used his device to send tweets to his friends and family to let them know he was unharmed. Shortly thereafter, he was released.

7. In September of 2010, a gunman forcibly entered the US offices of the Discovery Channel and took three hostages. The event ended later that evening when police stormed the building and shot the man dead. Curiously, the first tweets about the incident happened before any hostages were taken and photos were posted showing the gunman creeping around the building.

6. When news broke that there was indeed ice on Mars, it wasn’t any old fancy shmancy news outlet. No, it was Twitter. The unmanned mission’s dedicated Twitter account, that is.

5. “Is Whitney Houston really dead?”  This was the first tweet that started the literal deluge of information surrounding the icon’s tragic death. According to mediabistro.com, it took nearly an hour for the Associated Press to contribute their tweet regarding the situation.

4. We have all come to expect some sort of new-fangled gadget to make its debut every few months or so, but five years ago news of these devices were kept tightly under wraps.  Following in one, possibly drunken, Apple software engineer’s footprints, a San Francisco-based marketing executive leaked a photo of Google’s Nexus One smartphone. It’s still not clear whether the tweet was part of a carefully executive marketing ploy or just a result of a guy who got lucky.

3. Harkening back to the power of being in the right place at the right time, bystander Jim Hanrahan shared the incredible story of US Airways flight 1549 on Twitter, a mere four minutes after the plane crashed, according to The Telegraph. It still amazes me just how fortunate Pilot Sullenberger and everyone else on board were to have landed so gracefully in the Hudson. Stupid geese!

2. Similar to the assassination of JFK and the terrible destruction of the twin towers, we all remember where we were (or at least I do) when the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death was reported. Before being confirmed however, an IT consultant living near Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, tweeted this nugget. “A huge window shaking bang here in Abbottabad Cantt. I hope its not the start of something nasty :-S.”  

1. It has been nearly a year since news broke on Twitter of the Boston Marathon bombings. Rather than capturing the exhilarating, heard-earned moment of crossing the finish line, many onlookers like Dan Lampariello, who shared the first image of the event, walked away with images of sheer terror.  

Looking back on these stories, I can’t help but think just how incredible Twitter is to afford us the lightning fast ability to share information. Although compared to a few of them, I would much rather have something happy tweet about.

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