When protesters are outside, Twitter beats local newspaper site

A little past 9 a.m. today, a long fleet of truckers roared down the central business area of Harrisburg, all incessantly honking their horns. Some had signs taped outside their windows, revealing that they were protesting gas prices at the Capitol.

Interesting story, as anyone who lives or has an office downtown surely has heard them.

So let’s compare “coverage” from Twitter users and the local newspaper’s Web site, shall we?

Dani_PA Dani_PA PA truckers “convoying” to Capitol today to protest gas prices.Gas is too expensive, so they’re spending mucho $$ to drive w/o pay? (9:10 a.m.)

Daniel Victor bydanielvictor Trucks blaring horns on 2nd Street in protest of gas prices. Normally I’d be amused but they woke me up. Was looking fwd to sleeping in.

Daniel Victor bydanielvictor Thought it was a Three Mile Island alarm or some other apocalypse notification system.

Aaron Gotwalt gotwalt Hundreds of tractor trailers driving by the office honking their horns to protest gas prices. It’s like a hangover simulator.

Larry Marburger lmarburger I’m sure a horn-blaring truck convoy will lower the price of gas. Thank you, Harrisburg.

Greg Newman 20seven @bydanielvictor Is it that crazy downtown?

Daniel Victor bydanielvictor @20seven A bit quieter now, but still hard to hear my TV. Pennlive says they’re going to Capitol: http://tinyurl.com/2sxq25

Greg Newman 20seven @bydanielvictor yeah, all inlets to harrisburg are supposed to be backed up, plus a overturned TT on 81 north on or at the bridge

Dani_PA Dani_PA I HATE PA TRUCKERS AND THEIR HORNS. Nonstop for 30 min. Doesn’t Harrisburg have a noise violation policy? Why aren’t they getting ticketed!

Maurice Reeves MauriceReeves @Dani_PA LOL. you must be hearing the rally at the State Capitol building. I’m glad I’m not in Harrisburg right now.

Now let’s compare that all with what readers would find at the local newspaper’s Web site at 9:55 a.m.:

Traffic around The Capital Complex could be complex this morning when 75 truckers bring their rigs without trailers into downtown Harrisburg for a 10 a.m. rally. (emphasis added)

The newspaper’s update has more details, of course. But I italicized “could be complex” because it’s predictive, where as Twitter is immediately reactive.

Twitter showed me a variety of sources, and I laughed out loud at the “hangover simulator” comment.

Twitter allowed @20seven to ask a witness — whether or not I’m a reporter, I’m sure, was irrelevant — about what’s happening right now.

Twitter allowed me to link to our newspaper’s Web site for details.

And Twitter allowed @20seven to tell me, and any of his other followers, about traffic details I wouldn’t know about any other way.

Now I’m not criticizing my newspaper’s handling of it. In fact, it shows we’ve come a long way in that a morning newspaper can tell people why there are a bunch of horns blaring outside their window at 9 a.m.

The newspaper’s Web site did as well as it could under how we currently operate. Problem is, this experience on Twitter shows how the supposed immediacy of blogging just won’t be immediate enough as more people find their way to services like Twitter.

  • I posted a comment on PennLive too, but that group seems to think the truckers are doing a fine job.

  • To enhance this discussion I can say that a while ago I started using Twitter as a news feed. Since it has the “TRACK” feature I have tracked certain words, most especially Harrisburg and Amtrak, because I commute to Philadelphia a few times every week on the train. Amtrak’s site doesn’t list outages and most news outlets aren’t responsive enough to let me know when there’s an outage or delay somewhere on their rail network. That way I can plan around any problems.

    I love having that type of immediate and personal information available delivered right to my computer and phone.


  • Nice. I liked the “hangover simulator” line, too. But I wonder about what happens if Twitter takes hold on a grand scale.

    One of my general worries about getting wrapped up in Twitter is that it could be a massive time-suck going through hundreds or thousands of postlets. What if that happened on a small scale with news stories?

    Would coverage of, say, a presidential debate or inauguration, or a political rally, or a county fair, be overwhelming if you had to sort through 150 different Twitter feeds or posts on it? Granted, 150 snippets of different points of view could be more interesting, but simply the logistics of getting your news that way could get tiring, it seems. Or maybe it’ll be fine for real-time coverage, and then the next day a paper can come back with a broader look at the story.

    Anyway, interesting example of Twitter-as-news-deliverer in action.

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