#G20 – Twitter dominates mainstream media coverage

April 1, 2009

I’m feeling rather overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information on the G20 protests and I’m just sitting and watching. But maybe that’s my problem – there is so much to watch.

I’m currently waiting for 2,383 queued tweets on a #G20 search of Twitterfall (and later I realised that I need to keep it ticking over at 4 tweets per second to keep the queue down). I hardly need to say you can also track #G20 here and here.

Twitter has been comprehensively integrated into mainstream media coverage.* Here’s an inevitably incomplete run down of how Twitter has been used to tell the story. 

1. Twitter and Liveblogging

Sky News and The Times are both using CoverItLive. Sky have added reporters’ pictures which is a nice touch. They have decided to disable comments, whereas the Times is frantically trying to publish them all.

The Times admitted they were struggling to keep up:

Joanna Geary:  Sorry Dozi, we’ve had a sudden surge of comments coming through. I’m not sure I’m going to be able to publish them all. I will try my best.

Joanna Geary:  No censorship going on here guys. Just one comments editor trying to keep pace with all your great comments! 🙂 The only comments that might be rejected are those that would be offensive (swear words) and those that break the law (defamation, incitement to violence).

UPDATE 4.10pm:

There were also difficulties with mobile phone batteries:

Joanna Geary:  It is true that a couple of our reporters have run out of battery on their phone (they have been reporting since 9am. We do have others still in the field and some filing stories in the office. I will be linking as soon as they have finished.

The Guardian has a liveblog including embedded audio and video. They have a separate page for Twitter updates from their reporters. Matthew Weaver is using audioboo.fm to provide audio snippets. UPDATE: And here’s the Guardian’s Google map.

The BBC continues with the live text commentary approach that they’ve used for past events such as the attacks on Mumbai. They’ve also produced an interactive map.

UPDATE: The Financial Times has a dedicated G20 Twitter account.

But not everybody’s impressed with Twitter’s extensive use.

"@chilesl: anyone else finding the Guardian’s #g20 ‘reporting’ via #twitter distinictly annoying? http://tinyurl.com/d5x663"

2. Twitter sources

Journalists are now well aware, or should be well aware, of how to use Twitter to provide information and eyewitness accounts to enhance their coverage of events. Here’s the work of BBC News Online journalist, Ana Lucía González, which includes numerous shout outs for interviews and information like this one:

"@unslugged Hi from BBC, we would like to quote your tweets on our website, is this OK? We’d also like to speak to u. Pls DM me. Thank you!"

@unslugged later apears in the BBC’s live text commentary:

"Unslugged tweets: It’s like Tiananmen Square out there. Except the rioters brought their own tank. Read Unslugged’s tweets."

3. Twitpic Fail

Twitpic went down some time in the afternoon (reported by Sky News liveblog at 2.10pm), presumably due to the sheer volume of photos being uploaded. It does seem to have recovered at around 3pm. New competitor Tweetphoto was only too happy to point out its temporary demise.

UPDATE: More on a similar theme by Kate Day at the Telegraph.

*Today, this newspaper apparently converted it’s whole operation to Twitter-style updates from staff and trusted communities.



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2 thoughts on “#G20 – Twitter dominates mainstream media coverage”

  1. Sara says:

    I was following the G20 protests on both TV (BBC & Sky) and Twitter (dedicated Sky & Al Jazeera twitter feeds plus some citizen journalists). I think we’ve gotten to the point that, as consumers, we’ll be picking and choosing which channels of communication work best for which situations. Media houses will have to ensure that their news comes across well across the different channels or may risk losing out.

  2. Daniel Bennett says:

    And it’ll be interesting to see which approach consumers prefer more. Sky’s liveblog, for example, is a dedicated reporters’ feed whereas the Times’s blog is a cross between Twitter reportage and a forum.

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