(MENAFN - Arab News) "If it's not on Twitter then it's not news," that was the slogan the giant coffee company Starbucks used when it launched its brand on the popular social media website Twitter in 2006.
I was reminded by that story when reading a wonderful Twitter debate last week between three veteran columnist writers in the Arabic newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat. The three columnists were Samir Attallah, Mshari Al-Zaydi and Abdulrahman Al-Rashed. Samir Attallah started the Twitter debate with his rejection of Twitter as a whole. He entitled his article by "No to Twitter," indicating that it is no more than a social communication tool that presents itself as a trend that will surely fade away with time. The younger columnist Mshari Al-Zaydi agreed in principle with the old veteran but had his doubts on whether traditional journalism could satisfy the young generation's need for a speedy news delivery. He still thinks that Twitter lacks the credibility of traditional journalism, but he cannot lose sight of the large number of people that are interacting with news on Twitter.
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed presented a more broad view of the debate. He separated between the means and tools of journalism and what he articulately explained as the spirit of journalism. While the means may change over the years the spirit of journalism has stayed the same. He predicted that traditional reporting will stay with us for the next hundred years, and pointed out that the top Twitter personalities are those who relate to traditional media in one way or another.
This interesting discussion led me to do more research on the subject. I found a poll on the number one social media news website, mashable.com. The poll showed that 52 percent of people are getting their news from Twitter, 21 percent from newspapers, and the rest from other sources. I also found a study that indicates the determination of major international news agencies such as Reuters, The Associated Press and others to invest heavily on their Twitter correspondence in the coming years. Twitter could have the same affect as the discovery of the telegraph in the 19th century. Having a strategy that includes Twitter one way or the other in our local press would be a major decision every newspaper editor in chief should keep in mind.