One of the distinguishing features of social media has been that it enables communications of one-to-one, as well as one-to-group and one-to-large-many. Twitter now reports that it is faster than broadcast media in covering the latest news. The latest earthquake in Southern California apparently broke into Twitter chatter 4 minutes sooner than first broadcast media. It also says that 'By then, "Earthquake" was trending on Twitter Search with thousands of updates and more on the way.'
The figure here from the Twitter Blog explains what happened:
This is somewhat interesting, because I think Twitter is a more efficient way to get the news out to the people who cares. By using social connections to spread the information, only topics that have been socially filtered gets to me. This means, if I don't know anyone in Southern California or I'm not interested in earthquakes, I'm not likely to have friends who are interested in such news, which means the twitter traffic is less likely to reach me. This filters the information for me, automatically, simply by participating in the social network.
On the other hand, if I'm interested in such news, my social filters will help me get at such information faster than broadcast media can. I heard about the earthquake from our intern Brynn, who is from UCSD, so naturally she thought it would be good news to relay to me. My brother, who lives in Alhambra, didn't send an email to the rest of the family until an hour later. He was surprised that I had heard already, since it was just starting to get onto various news websites.