Twitter – the new media photographer’s scanner

(Last Updated On: July 29, 2008)

Twitter is becoming a valuable tool for the new media photojournalist,  reporter and everyday citizen.

Twitter is becoming “What’s Happening.”

Currently the Los Angeles Fire Department is using Twitter to share information on calls, wildfire updates, accidents and emergencies. A few police departments also have started employing Twitter to update the community. One such department is in Franklin, Massachusetts.  

In the “old days” news photographers used scanners and phone tips to get leads.  I recall many times hearing a scratchy voice broadcasting something of interest over the newsroom scanner, but all too often, I was not able to catch the key information and would lose out on an opportunity.  It was most frustrating, after a number of follow-up phone calls, to learn the event ultimately was nothing newsworthy.

As technology advances into the digital age, the analog scanners are being phased out for new digital technology leaving many photographers with just static in their ears. 

Twitter offers a number of solutions for the new media news photographer.   Of course, as mentioned above, traditional police and fire logs can be published in real time giving the photographer an opportunity to get to the scene and capture the decisive moment.  

A good reporter and photojournalist never forgets the value of citizen tips.  

The word of the China earthquake traveled across the globe via Twitter before the traditional media could blink.  The same can be true within local communities.  A good list of active people can keep a community photographer in the loop faster then ever possible before.

Twitter can offer the new media photojournalist a number of valuable tools.  Interview capabilities, fact checking and discovery of breaking news are just the tip of the iceberg.  

Following other news sources has always been a great way to develop local stories and with more outlets embracing Twitter, such as the BBC breaking news various types of updated news and features are available twenty four hours a day in most any location. 

As Twitter continues to hit the mainstream and become more about what’s happening, the opportunities will continue to grow for the new media photographer.  


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