Has Twitter rendered traditional media obsolete post-Turkey coup?

Published July 18th, 2016 - 10:23 GMT
Protesters waive a Turkish flag in Istanbul during Friday's coup attempt (AFP/Ozan Kose)
Protesters waive a Turkish flag in Istanbul during Friday's coup attempt (AFP/Ozan Kose)

It certainly seems that way. By now you know the story. A coup against Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan by elements of the military failed Friday, but not before all hell broke loose on the streets of Ankara and Istanbul. As the events of the coup in Turkey unfolded late Friday, it became abundantly clear that Twitter had arguably done a better job than many traditional news outlets.

Every major event was quickly posted on Twitter with lightning speed-from the live feed of CNN Turk’s takeover by pro-coup forces, to Erdogan’s FaceTime message calling on his supporters to protest. Pictures of angry civilians detaining pro-coup soldiers were tweeted, as were images of pro-coup fighter jets bombing the Turkish parliament.

There were conflicting reports that Turkish authorities had blocked social media during the coup, but observers in the country managed to get a wide array of information out there via Twitter nonetheless.

This is not to say traditional outlets did not report well-they did. AFP’s photographer Ozan Kose documented every turn of the wild night, for example, as did various major Turkish and international networks.

But Twitter seemed ahead of the game, as some networks were consumed literally by the news. CNN Turk’s studio was taken over by pro-coup protesters before the chaos ended.

There are accuracy issues with news on Twitter, of course. Verification can prove more difficult on Twitter, since anyone can post anything and make it look real. With this coup, however, it appears Twitter got the major events right.

Twitter’s stock price remains in the gutter as its management struggles to turn the social media giant into a profitable enterprise. But many would say they can pat themselves on the back for a job well-done Friday.

Adam Lucente

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