Twitter can be maddening in many ways, a cacophony of voices with a lousy signal-to-noise ratio—does anybody really care what somebody else had for breakfast?
But one thing that Twitter excels in is breaking news. Its broadcast, real-time, 140-character headline nature makes it a perfect vehicle for the latest news, whether it's being generated by on-the-spot observers (or participants) and retweeted far and wide, or whether it's being used by news organizations to blast out their latest headlines.
The latter seems a slamdunk use of Twitter by news organizations—it's just a great headline distribution medium. You'd think that news media outlets would be taking advantage of this functionality to increase their reach and influence. But that's not necessarily the case.
Sure, just about every news organization has a Twitter feed or two. But not all of them promote them well (or tend them well). As a result, a list of breaking news feeds on Twitter shows a large disparity in the number of followers for the various sources. This list isn't meant to be comprehensive, though it includes most of the major news brands. But it is representative:
Addendum: Some Twitterati argue that inclusion on Twitter's Suggested User list—which new Twitter members see after signing up—skews the popularity of certain sites. Sure, the list—which has hundreds of suggestions, in random order—is probably one factor in driving popularity. But there are many others, and a big news organization that can only garner a few thousand Twitter followers is clearly just not taking advantage of the medium or marketing its feeds well (including lobbying Twitter for inclusion on the suggested list!). And now it appears Twitter is considering eliminating the Suggested Users list. That would level the playing field.