Last night I noticed a tweet from Chris Messina about the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. This made me think about the value of Twitter as a news source.
Apparently people in Mumbai got the word out on Twitter first, well before the mainstream media did. This has happened before (e.g. the California fires), which rises the question if Twitter is a valuable news source. I think it is.
Some critics say it is not news as the Twitter messages aren't verified. While this is true, off course, I don't see why this would mean it's not news as such. Wikipedia isn't always right ether and still we use it as an important information source. Even the traditional media channels are wrong sometimes (see the ‘MP3 murder’ in Brussels), so what? Unverified eyewitness reports are something that will always happen in the first chaotic moments after disasters like this. Twitter is a news source, not the news source.
People have to learn to look critical at news sources (amongst other things). Wikipedia for example is a good place to start looking for information but it should never be the place where you stop. In today's world it becomes more and more important to collect bits and pieces from various sources to built your own ‘truth’. You have to dare to question your sources. Even the traditional news is colored as it looks from a certain cultural, economical maybe, perspective.