Journal: Twitter Breaks the News

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Twitter breaks story on Discovery Channel gunman James Lee

Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 2, 2010

The news broke around 1 p.m. with a few sketchy details. Gunman. Shots. Hostages. Discovery building.

Within minutes, there were photos, including an astonishing one of a man clad in shorts, carrying a rifle and stalking through what looked like an office courtyard.

The news of a gunman at the Discovery Channel’s headquarters in Silver Spring indeed traveled fast on Wednesday, but none of it came through radio, TV or newspaper Web sites, at least not at first. As it has with other breaking news events — the landing of a jet on the Hudson River in 2009, the 2008 massacre in Mumbai — the story unfolded first in hiccupping fits and starts on Twitter, the much-hyped micro-blogging service that has turned millions of people into worldwide gossips, opinion-mongers and amateur news reporters.

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