I've been watching the Hurricane Ike coverage for the better part of the last 24 hours. I did sleep a little bit in there too.
Having grown up in the CNN era, I am used to flipping on CNN and watching it for hours when something big hits the news cycle. I still do that, but I also find myself using Twitter and Twitter Search to find people reporting from Houston and Galveston. It's been quite interesting to follow activities there.
You can constantly refresh various Twitter Searches, such as this one on Ike. Lots of stuff pops up on Twitter before it ever makes its way to the cable news nets - and there's also a lot more variety. This morning I watched Betty Nguyen talk about the same building that lost their air conditioning, and showing us a traffic light that had blown over for 4 hours. She must have repeated this same cycle 6 times. And they were not re-playing this footage, it was live.
CNN is starting to understand the power of Twitter - CNN correspondent Rick Sanchez was Tweeting in between live spots last night on his Twitter account. On the other hand, Anderson Cooper's producers kept recycling links to old blog posts on his Twitter. Not terribly useful.
The Austin Statesman had their reporters and photographers send twitters to a special Hurricane Ike account and it's been great coverage so far. They get that Twitter should be more than just another place to aggregate links to blog posts or articles and can provide blow by blow coverage of live exploration pretty easily. The Houston Chronicle could learn a thing or two from this coverage, their Twitter account seemed to mostly be linking to blog posts or new articles.
I've always disliked reading Twitter accounts that mostly use it as a link aggregation tool and don't follow those accounts that just do that - Google Reader is a much better tool for gathering those...
Twitter has gotten so popular that it's really become the tool on the net for reaction to live events. It's pretty cool.