Frances Johnson

The Evolution of the News Teller

When I was home for winter break, I was doing what any college student would be doing:  sitting on my living room couch watching Netflix.  My parents were in the kitchen making dinner and I was being my usual lazy self.  It was great, I have no siblings to share TV privileges with and my parents were pretty good about giving me space.

It was close to 6:00 p.m. at that point.  As I continued to watch The Office, I felt a strong jolt from underneath me.  It lasted for maybe two seconds.  I was a little startled, but not alarmed.  It was Southern California after all, earthquakes were as common as snow on the East Coast during wintertime.  I called out to my parents and asked, “Did you feel that?”  Neither of them did and didn’t believe me because it wasn’t on the news, which they were watching while making dinner.  I thought I had maybe hallucinated, so I grabbed my phone and immediately looked at Twitter.

I did a simple search for “earthquake” in the Twitter app and hundreds of tweets appeared that had just been tweeted out seconds or minutes ago.  Most of the tweets said things like, “Did anyone else feel that earthquake?” which was exactly what I was wondering.  I clicked on a few people’s profiles and some of them had their locations listed as cities that were just a few minutes away from me.  I was right, there was an earthquake.  I called back out to my parents and told them the news.  They seemed to believe me, but I was still puzzled as to how they didn’t feel the 4.4 tremor.

This anecdote is an excellent example of how the way people get their news and information has changed.  My parents, who are in their mid-50s, were waiting for it to be broadcast on TV.  I went immediately to Twitter, which is where I get the majority of my news because I follow my favorite media outlets there.  People my age are looking for simple, watered down versions of the news, which they can get with 140 characters or less or clicking on links media outlets provide.

With Twitter, anyone can break news.  It may not be accurate, especially for high-profile stories or crime, but I think I can rely on it for now whenever there’s an earthquake near where I live.


One comment on “The Evolution of the News Teller

  1. materazzo94
    February 15, 2016

    I like how you used Twitter to get a quick confirmation of something like that. But I wonder how did you “officially” out about the earthquake, i.e. strength/epicenter? Was there a news station or other official body like NOAA or the US Geological Survey that put out a Tweet, or did you find that out through a traditional venue like TV?


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This entry was posted on February 13, 2016 by .
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