TTT vs. The News Cycle

In the old days the “news cycle” was the interval between the news media’s pumpings: the paper’s daily print run, the TV station’s morning and evening news programs.

Now that cycle is as short as the TTT: Time To Tweet.

Consider yesterday.

Sitting in an idle subway car at the Alewife station, from which all southbound MBTA Red Line trains commence, twenty minutes passed while I became increasingly late for a lunch date near the Central station, normally about twelve minutes away. Finally the awful PA system started squawking something to passengers about a “police action” at the Harvard station (three down from Alewife, one short of Central) and something else about “delays” and “southbound.” Once it became clear that trains wouldn’t go, I called my wife and got a ride to my lunch.

In the meantime I tweeted What was the “police action” at that kept southbound trains from going through Harvard Square today? #mbta

The first tweet back from @universalhub (Adam Griffin) said @dsearls Bank robber cheaped out and tried to escape on the T rather than hiring a proper getaway car.

That last link unpacks a story by Adam in UniversalHub (the website) titled Week’s best reason for delays on the Red Line. The central paragraph:

MBTA Transit Police report a Harvard Square bank robbery suspect tried to make good his escape on the Red Line (they don’t say in which direction). He was quickly nabbed, but the station had to be shut to allow for evidence collection.

The linked report is this:

On Friday 7th May 2010, @MBTAPoliceTPSA2 said:


Sorry for delays and inconvenience on Red Line in Cambridge. Bank robbery tried to make escape using Red Line train. He was arrested without incident, but left behind a sea of evidence that had to be properly collected for prosecution purposes. On behalf of Cambridge and Transit Police Departments, and the MBTA, thank you for your patience and understanding today during this public safety incident.

And we thank you too, @MBTAPoliceTPSA2 and @universalhub. Impressive.

The Boston Globe had a story this morning on it. Maybe the TV and radio stations did to. If so I missed it.

Re-draw your own conclusions.

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4 Responses to TTT vs. The News Cycle

  1. Adam Gaffin says:

    Thanks for the shout-out! To be fair to the local media, the Cambridge Chronicle was the first to report on the robber/Red Line connection – although only after reading – and retweeting – this tweet. And the Globe did post their (very detailed) story on their Web site yesterday afternoon (for some reason, hides much of their daily breaking news – you have to know to click on “Today’s Globe” and then on “Breaking News: Local”) – although way too late to do you and all those people sitting at Alewife any good.

    But, yes, as that first tweet shows, Twitter has become a primary news source. In Boston, anybody who wants to know about what’s going on on the subway system has to follow #mbta (that’s how I spotted your query – and how I first heard about the fire a week or so ago that shut down the entire subway system downtown).

  2. CoCreatr says:

    Ah, that is how it works. Re-drawing my own conclusion: Unvetted news is faster. We kind of knew that.

    If we are in an ongoing mass experiment on veracity, would there be any stats on that?

    (Beyond the kind of pointless headline “twitter is 40% pointless babble”).

  3. Doc Searls says:

    I’d hope so, but i dunno. Anybody else know?

  4. Mike Warot says:

    If you want to figure out veracity, you have to leverage the apparent fact that as time progresses, transparency increases. This combined with a good amount of lag (let’s say 1 year) could allow you to compare a source against history and determine reputability.

    If one were to say, read the news exactly 1 year ago every day, one could fine tune their senses and “tune the loop” in the right way.

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