A story broken on Twitter, made for Twitter

2013-02-15 00:00

THERE was only one story on Twitter in South Africa yesterday — and that was #OscarPistorius, thanks to sister paper Beeld.

Shortly after 7 am yesterday morning @Beeld_nuus appears to have been the first to break the news on Twitter that the Olympic and Paralympic athlete had been arrested after the fatal shooting of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Twitter is a social media service with hundreds of millions of users globally and is increasingly the first stop for news junkies following breaking stories.

By late yesterday afternoon the volume of tweets using the #OscarPistorius hashtag (the name for a a keyphrase joined to a ‘#’ which allows users to follow a single subject on the social media service) was still at more than 4 300 an hour.

A News24 breaking story about the alleged murder was “retweeted” — or shared by other users — an astounding 4 634 times.

It was a story made for reporters. Soon other media organisations locally and abroad were at the centre of the Twitter action.

But non-journalist users also tapped into public sentiment around the sensational developments.

“Angel1Jones” , executive creative director of an advertising agency, started tweeting about how Pistorius’s site contained a Nike endorsement that showed Pistorius running and bearing the words: “I am the bullet in the chamber”.

“Repeat, dear #Nike and #OscarPistorius PR people, change Oscar website scrolling header pic NOW …”, she wrote with a link to the image, which was shared nearly 350 times in hours.

In the face of the Twitter furore that followed, that image had been removed by late yesterday.

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