Does Twitter Spell the Doom of the Drudge Report?

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.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card


Thanks for your support!

Did you enjoy AlterNet this year? Join us! We're offering AlterNet ad-free for 15% off - just $2 per week. From now until March 15th.