Realizing that daily updates from those I follow on Twitter outnumber my total number of updates, I logged in and glanced over at the public timeline. Someone mentioned how saddened she was to hear about Ingmar Bergman. Saddened? Did Bergman die? Sure enough, a couple of clicks later I found that Ingmar Bergman did indeed die earlier today.
Bergman is considered to be one of the most influential film directors of the 20th century. Before being drawn to computer science, I used to want to make my mark in the world as a film maker. I can still remember first mentioning my film making aspirations to a mentor and being referred to Ingmar Bergman’s movies. The Seventh Seal and Through A Glass Darkly quickly made it to my own list of movie recommendations. Using creative outlets to explore dark themes has always been something I’ve been drawn to, and the works of art I admire most seem to reflect the most tormented of souls as creators.
Now Berman is dead. With all the different methods of news delivery methods, I heard about this event through Twitter. Not newspaper. Not CNN. Not the streaming news ticker at the bottom of my local news channel. Definitely not radio. Not from my RSS reader. Not even one of the Twitter members whose updates I follow. I first heard about this through the Twitter public timeline, which refreshes regularly and shows the updates of all Twitter members who elect to keep their updates public.
This got me to thinking about how often I now first hear of something through a social networking site. Obviously, some of the more personal (i.e., not newsmedia-worthy) events are better suited for sharing via Facebook or MySpace. But other happenings which do get covered by more traditional forms of journalism are slowly gaining my attention more effectively through new channels of communication. A bulletin may ask me to sign a petition in support of a Congressional bill and this is what alerts me to a particular debate. A link to results of a study in a scientific study could be shared. Someone running from a steam pipe explosion in New York can provide me with instant firsthand accounts.
Of course, I don’t consider MySpace or Twitter to be credible news sources. When I saw mention of Bergman’s death on Twitter the first thing I did was check another source. I also still rarely see news for the first time on a social networking site. Major news outlets certainly shouldn’t worry about being supplanted by these sites. News obtained through these new avenues of communication don’t happen often enough to change the news industry, but just a handful of occurrences would be enough to get noticed.
Will the news industry one day have to adapt?