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JOURNALISM IN THE AMERICAS Blog

U.S. journalist uses Twitter to break 1,000-word story that traditional media ignored



The same online journalist who scooped traditional print media exposing New Republic writer Stephen Glass as a fraud who fabricated quotes and even sources, has done it again.

Adam Penenberg, whose story about Glass was made famous in a book and movie, last week broke the story of a $131 million verdict against Ford Motor Co., stemming from the death of minor league baseball player Brian Cole who died in 2001 when the Ford Explorer he was in flipped over, according to the news site Gather.

Noticing that traditional news outlets were completely ignoring the story, Penenberg turned to Twitter to get the news out. He posted more than 50 tweets in two hours, creating a complete story of more than 1,000 words, explained High Position, an Internet marketing site. One of his posts even chastised journalists for their negligence: "C’mon reporters. Am I only one who thinks $131 MILLION verdict against FORD in a product liability suit is news??"

In an article for Fast Company, Penenberg explains how he experimented with Twitter to write a story, 140 characters at a time.

In an interview with Penenberg published on TechCrunch, he laments the he-said/she-said aspect of much of today's journalism that lacks any kind of context or explanation. And while he said he doesn't know if his Twitter story represents a new form of journalism -- long-form journalism unfolding in real time -- what matters is not whether it's print or online, but rather its quality, he said.

"It is ironic that online journalists have received bad press from the print media for shoddy reporting," he wrote about Glass. "But the truth is, bad journalism can be found anywhere. It is not the medium; it is the writer.”



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