“Social media is not just transforming newsrooms – it’s transforming the very fabric of society,” says Riyaad Minty, Head of Social Media for Al Jazeera. “We are no longer the gate-keepers, and we need to understand this shift so as to make sense of it.”
“News organisations do not break the news any more: people break the news,” he says: the new news wires are social networks. When Minty heard that Osama Bin Laden had died, he immediately went to Twitter, and found an account of someone close to the site who was live-tweeting the raid. This was a totally different experience to turning on a TV.
Rather than become overwhelmed by this crisis of relevance, Minty said news organisations need to think, “How do we then effectively access this breaking news, package it and distribute it?” He was speaking at last week's World Editors Forum in Kiev.
In the future, we will see more and more information online, said Minty, and with this comes more noise, and more disinformation. Context becomes more and more crucial, and that is where news organisations thrive: Twitter can say what’s happening now, but not why.