I've been watching Twitter (yes, Twitter has matured a great deal lately) and FriendFeed all weekend for information on the Iran election. At some point, Marshall Kirkpatrick of ReadWriteWeb even wrote a post to CNN for being hours behid the news in Iran.
If you think this is just the domain of geeks, maybe you have a point. However, is it good that a news organization is not paying attention to something that has been captivating the interest and conversation of so many? Given the humanity of the situation, it's not a surprise that we would all respond to it and want to learn more.
On FriendFeed, Scoble shared earlier how CNN is covering the news and I agree that it's not a matter of news organizations vs. citizen journalists or first person accounts. We even collected a number of ways to track what is being said from the country on FriendFeed. But, the current events are definitely giving us a taste of the differences between journalism, reporting and curated editorial all at once.
As I wrote the other day, in Iran users have moved from service to service - they're using SMS, email, Twitter, whatever they can find working - to broadcast news, organize, and find out what's going on from what we're playing back to them while we're using the same tools to listen and discuss in other parts of the world.
The Economist says the real winner was an unusual hybrid of old and new media. I beg to differ because new media clearly led the way this time. It was clearly in the lead from the beginning and remained that way for its ability to not just inform (ok, in some cases misinform), but to touch such a diverse audience, to reach out from the screens to the hearts of the people - because everyone was participating in the news, not just watching from afar.
What is extraordinary is also that news organization did not need to run polls to know they were getting their clock cleaned by crowdsourced news, they were getting those comments directly live from Twitter and other new media networks. Stop running taped programming and pay attention, they said - and so they did.
Jeff Jarvis is correct in assessing filter failure, that is the main reason why we do need experienced news entities and/or people to sift through and verify/validate what comes our way. Andrew Sullivan at The Atlantic, The Guardian, The New York Times, and the Huffington Post have been doing a good job doing just that. The fact that breaking news is now posted to blogs is an indication of the maturity of this communication format. The BBC news is also getting props for good coverage in comments throughout new media.
This is the first time I can remember when we did not rely on our televisions to learn about breaking news but we saw it being reported and discussed live on our computer screens. This is how CNN loses ground to crowdsourced news - while many surely don't fancy themselves journalists, people do want to talk about what they're seeing and experiencing, together.
That is the true power of new media.