By Mathew Ingram Jun. 12, 2012,
'As we’ve mentioned a number of times, Twitter has been gradually tip-toeing further and further into the media business for some time now. It has already become a real-time newswire for many, a source of breaking news and commentary on live events, and now — with the launch of curated “hashtag pages” like the one it launched late last week for a NASCAR event — it is showing signs of becoming a full-fledged editorial operation. It may not be hiring investigative reporters, but the areas of overlap between what it does and what media companies do is growing, and so is its attractiveness to the advertisers that media entities desperately need to hang onto.
The NASCAR page may not seem like anything to be concerned about, since it appears to be just a typical grouping of tweets collected by hashtag. But there is editorial control behind it as well as algorithms, with an editor choosing which messages — including photos, videos and commentary from NASCAR insiders — were highlighted during the event, and which streamed by unacknowledged. And Twitter has made it clear that this kind of effort is not aimed primarily at brands (although it almost certainly will involve them at some point) but is intended for events. In other words, for the news.
Twitter is curating information, just as media companies do
It’s easy to imagine a similar page constructed around a revolution in Libya, or an earthquake in Japan, or virtually any other news event. Would that be something that media companies could use to their advantage, or a competing service, or both? In some ways, it could be a much better, crowd-sourced version of Google News. Twitter’s efforts have at least one editor for a mainstream media outlet concerned for his job, and that of others like him — in a blog post, Ross Neumann of Reuters says:
'Twitter revolutionized journalism once before, and news organizations responded with the social media editor. Now it seems that the social media editor, the reaction to disruption, could be a victim of it.'...