Municipalist has followed the bizarre but certainly predictable assault on Twitter in recent months from many big-time mainstream media names. Maureen Dowd at the New York Times, Dana Milbank at the Washington Post, Leonard Pitts at the Miami Herald, Alessandra Stanley, Rachel Maddow, Nancy Giles, Kathleen Parker, Matt Bai, the Financial Times, Jon Stewart, sports columnist Gregg Doyel, and on and on. But that is all over now. A new age has arrived.
Since mid-day Thursday, WashingtonPost.com has up its "Fort Hood Shooting Twitter Aggregator." Which sounds way too complicated. [That acronym would be FHSTA, to be forever referred to here as "Fasta."] The site tracks "breaking information about Thursday's Fort Hood shootings from news sources and military Twitter users." The New York Times has set up its own Twitter list covering the shootings as well.
ABC News joins the listing game too. Fastas and listas, everywhere you look, all from the mainstream media, home to plenty of Twitter bashing and eye-rolling and tut-tutting for as long as Twitter has been around. So what happened? And then on CNN this morning, I saw this under a graphic that showed a photo and the name of police officer Kimberly Munley who shot the shooter: "Source: Twitter."
Will the activity here move beyond these sort of basic engagement tactics? Will mainstream media organizations hire more Web developers to create their own aggregation and sharing and listening applications? That would seem to be the next step.
But don't look for mainstream media to suddenly refrain from slamming Twitter. Kathleen Parker has way too much space to fill every week.
On the government side, the Army is tweeting on the Fort Hood murders, but not nearly enough. Department of Homeland Security is not tweeting on this, and should be. Not that Janet Napolitano could ever figure this out.
And Twitter keeps making itself better, as TechCrunch details today here and here, as additional apps from a myriad of developers to make the Twitter experience richer and easier to manage keep popping up as well. Here is TC on recent additions such as Bettween and Brizzly.
Update 1: Essential thinking on this from Paul Carr at TechCrunch on how a soldier's tweets from inside the Fort Hood hospital as the wounded were brought in -- and even a photo of one shooting victim with a graphic description of his wounds -- are little more than "tragiporn": "For all the sound and fury, citizen journalism once again did nothing but spread misinformation at a time when thousands of people with family at the base would have been freaking out already, and breach the privacy of those who had been killed or wounded. We learned not a single new fact, nor was a single life saved."
Update 2: Analyst Jim Geraghty shares the notion that the logical site to check out simply does not bother to make the effort, and so he wants to know: "Four days later, DHS web site has nothing on Fort Hood. One top news item is on testing smoke alarms."