It’s what we saw with the Iran coverage—cross-platform, cross-outlet curation—only more streamlined. And more institutionalized. And, in some ways, more meaningful. As Mashable’s Adam Ostrow put it,
What’s really interesting here from a media perspective is that we’re seeing news organizations that compete vigorously for breaking news turning to real-time curation to help tell the story. And the result is certainly a win for media consumers – rather than searching far and wide for local news from Fort Hood, it’s all being aggregated for us by news organizations we trust. It certainly might be a glimpse of what’s to come from the Twitter Lists feature.
I agree. But I’d also take it a step farther. What we saw play out yesterday wasn’t just about the Twitter lists as a general feature; it was about Twitter lists as a general future. Which is to say: it was about what Twitter lists suggest for all media.
One of the core elements that has defined journalism, essentially since the first newspapers sprang up in the 17th century, has been competition—and with it, implicitly, the assumption that news is a commodity that news outlets are in a race to capture, create, package, sell. The Web has been utterly disruptive to that dynamic—not merely because it has changed the atomic infrastructure of news and its consumption, but also because it has, in more logistical terms, merged media platforms that used to be physically separate. “The Internet” is, in its way, a one-stop news shop; and through, in particular, the deceptively simple innovation that is the hyperlink, news outlets are increasingly defined by connection rather than separation. (Thus, the “Web.”) And that, in turn—fundamentally, if not completely—topples the competitive underpinnings of newsgathering as a profession. Do what you do best, and link to the rest.
Twitter lists suggest the institutionalization of this connected mentality, a kind of rudimentary codification of the media’s increasing openness to—and reliance upon—collaboration. They suggest the myriad benefits of cross-pollination. Even at this nascent stage, they represent, simultaneously, both the collapse and the expansion of the journalistic brand—and the recognition that, increasingly, brands are at their strongest when their owners prove willing to weaken them.