Megan Garber of the Nieman Journalism Lab looks at how Twitter’s new design puts greater emphasis on broadcasting consequential information:
For a Twitter interface newly focused on image-based content, that distinction matters. Up until now, the only contextual components of a tweet — aside from the peripheral metadata like “time sent,” retweeted by,” etc. — have been the text and the link. The link may have led to more text or images or videos; but it also would have led to a different platform. Now, though, within Twitter itself, we’re seeing a shift from text-and-link toward text-and-image — which is to say, away from conversation and toward pure information. Which is also to say, away from communication…and toward something more traditionally journalistic. Tweets have always been little nuggets of narrative; with #newtwitter, though, individual tweets get closer to news articles.
We’ve established already that Twitter is, effectively if not officially, a news platform unto itself. #Newtwitter solidifies that fact, and then doubles down on it: It moves the news proposition away from a text-based framework…and toward an image-based one. If #twitterclassic established itself as a news platform, in other words, #newtwitter suggests that the news in question may increasingly be of the broadcast variety.
Network news broadcasts are one of the most recognizable uses of TV as a medium. Twenty-four hour cable news networks took that concept even further – perhaps as far as it could go. The Internet has been an uncomfortable, often awkward medium for news organizations that are used to having much greater control over the information package they broadcast. The Internet, by it’s very nature, doesn’t allow for the same kind of packaging: news stories stand alone, and the audience can consume them in an infinite number of combinations.
A news broadcast serves you a set of stories. The Internet serves you a choice of stories, and you pick the ones you want to read. This is where Twitter comes in. It gives you the ability to build a stream of information that includes the sources and types of stories you want to see on an ongoing basis. The new Twitter design released this week appears to support that behavior even more, by presenting the images and video that accompany tweets on a single screen. It gives the visual elements of a story precedence over text, which is a reflection of consumption habits on the Internet. According to the Pew Research Center:
Three-quarters of broadband users (74%) who enjoy high-speed connections at both home and work watch or download video online.