Andy Carvin and Twitter's New Journalism

Friday, February 25, 2011


Twitter and Facebook have been conduits of information throughout the protests in the Arab world. But that news has been atomized, second by second accounts coming from hundreds of unknown sources. Into that relentless stream has stepped NPR's Andy Carvin, who's become a one-stop clearinghouse of news by vetting sources and trying to verify individual tweets. Carvin explains how Twitter's political utility has also created a new kind of journalism.

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Comments [13]

Travion Mallette

Thank you Andy Carvin and NPR. I also took up twitter seriously after I saw a bit on Andy's feed in the NYTimes. You are keeping me connected with the mideast on such a personal way. Thanks, Andy, it must be difficult emotionally. Please know that what you are doing is so appreciated by all of us following you.

Mar. 02 2011 11:45 AM
ed kriner from reading, pa.

So situational ethics rule at NPR with the full approval of Bob Garfield. What other "situations" require a breach of ethics? War/occupation of Iraq? Coodling the "Masters of the Universe" that brought us to financial ruin. Torture being called anything but?

Mar. 02 2011 09:20 AM
Howard Covitz

I was retweeted by @acarvin and all I got was this lousy shirt:

Feb. 28 2011 07:43 PM
Megan Hines from US

Have you seen Ushahidi (hosted service at or SwiftRiver??

These tools let anyone be the reporter, and give the curator ways to comb through, sort, and add value to reports.

Feb. 28 2011 04:19 PM
CDlibrl from Houston

Andy are you particularly following a story or just following any breaking news taking place around the world? Because after last nights Oscar tweets it's hard to imagine if you have a specific agenda.
How do you decide which tweets are RT worthy and Whig aren't? Is it just your gut instinct? The reason I ask is there might be thousands of real and genuine tweets coming out of the region but it seems that several of the RT are repeat from the same source more often than not.

Anyways, I do look for it but you tweet so much that after a while it becomes overwhelming #gave4andy #give4andy

Feb. 28 2011 03:12 PM
Damon S Raphael, MD from Vail (near Tucson), AZ

Hi Andy Carvin,
Thanks for you recent efforts on Twitter. Your comments and RTs are my "core curriculum" for understanding the march to representative government in North Africa and the Middle East.
Keep up the good work!

Feb. 28 2011 03:04 PM
jenni hoffman from San Francisco, California

I follow Andy on Twitter but also follow most of the people in the middle east from whom he 'retweets'. He is more of a coordinator in my opinon and a good one! I was a bit dismayed about some self-serving comments during the height of the Tahrir Square demonstrations and some personal inforamtion that seemed out of place for a 'reporter' but all in all verified, local and coordinated information is great and way ahead of network news. I disliked Twitter prior to the Egyptian revolution. Now it's my 'go to' source for the middle east conflicts.

Feb. 28 2011 02:56 PM
Andy Carvin from DC

Hi Evan,

I can totally understand your skepticism; just sitting around and RTing a bunch of stuff generally isn't exactly reporting. But if you dig into my Twitter feed you'll see I'm doing a lot more than that. I'm working with Arabic translators from around the world to translate the latest videos coming out of Libya. I'm working with people to verify various claim. I'm IDing reliable sources for our radio producers to interview. And I'm debunking rumors whenever possible. To me, at least, that's a form of reporting. Perhaps not the same as pounding the shoe leather to knock on doors and interview sources in person, but it's a form of reporting nonetheless.

Feb. 28 2011 02:27 PM

I really, really get tired of this overly romantic relationship "journalist" like Bob have towards their profession. I will leave aside the biased journalism that allowed everything from Jim Crow to the mistreatment of women and children in the workplace to thrive for far too long, in part because the of mainstream news blackouts. I will leave aside the numbers of journalists and entire newspapers co-oped by power in cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles, New York. I could go on.

So, where is this golden age of unbiased fact checked and double check reporting. While it is true that some extraordinarily brave men and women have risked their lives and careers to report the facts.

Many of the most respected muckrackers journalist love to sight had to buck the "system" of reporting to get their stories out.

I would like a little less romance and a little more effort to improve the outcome of reporting. As TV is all but a lost cause, the responsibility is even greater.

Ok, maybe it's just Bob that makes me grumpy. Grr...

Feb. 27 2011 08:41 PM
Peggy Brennan from Connecticut

Thank you Andy Carvin and NPR. I also took up twitter seriously after I saw a bit on Andy's feed in the NYTimes. You are keeping me connected with the mideast on such a personal way. Thanks, Andy, it must be difficult emotionally. Please know that what you are doing is so appreciated by all of us following you.

Feb. 26 2011 07:39 PM
Evan from Santa Monica, CA

Huh...posted my comment before listening to the full show, so I had no idea that there was an interview on "curating" later on.

Feb. 26 2011 03:48 PM
Bill Warner from New York/Seattle

Great interview; I learned a lot and finally took up using twitter. The first thing I did was follow Andy Carvin. Digressing a bit to twitter terminology. I follow acarvin@. Does that make me a follower? Acarvin a leader, or a followee? I like following a story, but I don't want that to imply that I'm following a leader.

Feb. 26 2011 03:36 PM
Evan from Santa Monica, CA

Allow me to be the first skeptic: is Carvin really reporting anything at all, or is he a follower of people who are making and breaking news, and retweeting what they write and asking them questions for us to see? This word has become overused as of late, but I think a more appropriate description of Carvin's work is "curating," rather than "reporting." I am not trying to minimize the information that he is relaying to his followers on Twitter, and the depth of information that he has relayed goes far beyond anything else from an American source.

Feb. 26 2011 11:48 AM

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