Does Twitter Spell the Doom of the Drudge Report?

News & Politics

Several very recent and very different news events -- the Iranian elections, the Mark Sanford story, and the death of Michael Jackson -- now raise a similar question: is the Drudge Report still the go-to online source for breaking news?

You can't have helped but notice the role that Twitter has played in the coverage of the events in Iran. And if you're a daily Twitter user, you probably got your first news of Michael Jackson's death that way.

But those events by themselves don't give us any particular reason to believe Drudge's influence is waning. Before you get to that, you have to take account of the explosion in popularity and acceptance Twitter has enjoyed among influential journalists working in the traditional media -- a story even hardened holdouts and Twitter-haters have doubtless heard by now.

That's the key factor, I think, in what I'm guessing is Twitter's eventually overtaking Drudge and robbing him of his influence. If the eyes of the journalists who drive the traditional media are getting their hottest, most rapidly-breaking news via Twitter, it could represent a sea change in how they view the news. And if that happens, it could change the way you'll view it, too.

For years, even people who hated Drudge's politics were addicted to his site because it was the fastest way to get breaking news, even if the stories he chose to cover were almost always the least substantial sort of bullshit. In particular, people whose livelihoods were wrapped up in getting the latest details on breaking stories -- including but not limited to the ranks of professional journalists -- often kept Drudge's page open on their computers all day long, using it as a pipeline for the latest infotainment, and extracting from it not only what would become the substance of the next news cycle's reporting, but oftentimes coming away with Drudge's own interpretation of events as well, and passing that on in their own reporting, whether in agreement, or at minimum as an "alternative viewpoint" that gave their stories "balance."

But if Twitter allows anyone (and everyone) to break a story, and to do it faster than Drudge can post it, that could indeed mean the beginning of the end of the Drudge era.

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