For bin Laden news, it's not Twitter's moment, it's Wikipedia's

I've seen a lot of mention in the coverage of the bin Laden killing about how this was Twitter's CNN moment, referring to the first Gulf War when CNN and people like Bernard Shaw suddenly became vital beacons of information.

Here's an article to that effect.
I think that's a take we'll be hearing more in the next couple of days. But I think that's bunk.

You heard me: BUNK! Bunk I say!

Back in 1991, CNN had news gathering operations in place, journalists and editors on staff, trucks, equipment. Twitter doesn't have that. Twitter is not a news gathering organization. Twitter has no fact checkers. Twitter is a platform. If anything, it's not CNN, it's cable television itself but with everyone getting their own tiny channel on the dial and you can watch that channel at the same time as any other channel you choose to watch. So in other words, nothing like cable whatsoever.

I follow a lot of journalists on Twitter and, yes, I heard about OBL's death before it was being reported on TV and well before the president spoke. But I also heard things like the attack happened three weeks ago, he was killed by a drone aircraft, and other stuff that turned out to be false. So yes, Twitter had a form of the scoop early but I don't think it was anywhere near as significant in this case as it has been in cases that are ongoing like the revolution in Egypt or the continuing rebellion in Libya.

In those cases, new developments often occurred in the public square and could be updated with some degree of reliability in real time. Twitter was the first place you'd hear about something and you could watch it unfold. There were no tweets as the raid occurred, aside from @ReallyVirtual's and he didn't really know what was going on.

I think the real coverage of the event is Wikipedia. I was up early reading New York Times accounts and Washington Post accounts and other papers, often wading through a bunch of back story on bin Laden that I really didn't need. Afterward, I had 5 minutes before I had to leave to catch my bus and my wife asked me, "So what do we know for sure about what happened?" My knowledge was pieced together and I told her things that I've since realized aren't accurate. Once on the bus, I read the Wikipedia page about the attack and it was comprehensive. Wikipedia gets slammed sometimes for being unreliable and a place where any yahoo can alter reality to anything they like. The page about the attack is extensive, well sourced, and incredibly informative. Even if Twitter had its moment as an information disperser, we'll all lean on Wikipedia more in the future. In high profile cases like this, these pages are being extensively edited and also extensively policed. Good stuff. You should read it.

About the author

John Moe is the host of Marketplace Tech Report, where he provides an insightful overview of the latest tech news.
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It's funny what happens when you've got hundreds of people all working with the same standard: "verifiable information from reliable sources".

I listened to a speech by CBS' senior news executive, and she freely admitted CBS News didn't have any conservatives on their news staff. They simply appointed people to serve as "devil's advocate" when they felt the need to evaluate the conservative point of view.

Wikipedia isn't like that. Wikipedia has no "editor in chief" who gets to skew things to suit his or her world view. That's because Wikipedia's editors come from all points of view, and when one editor gets out of line they get out-voted, or when they choose to ignore the fundamental rules as in the case of Scientologists, they get banned entirely from editing.

I wish main stream media could be more like Wikipedia.

Thanks for the prize!

Firstly: I'm not especially unvolved in that article, so other guys are to get the real glory here.

Secondly: Wikipedia is so-so reliable, the main way to ascertain some level of reliability is looking on the quality assessment tag, which is start-, C-, B-class a.s.o.. The number of editors on an article is important: an article by a few editors can be good or pure trash. The article you refer to is linked to from the main page. That implies numerous observers, some adding info, some fixing the text flow, some controlling the info against the sources.

No thanks, I reject this prize!

Please referr to the Wikipedia article Wikipedia:What_Wikipedia_is_not#Wikipedia_is_not_a_newspaper

Wikipedia is not a newsticker, because there is WikiNews which has this job to do. Unfortunately, there are too many authors who disregard the rules.

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