Twitter has been slowly and surely making its way to becoming a personal news wire of sorts.
Time and again the site has been the first to report some world event or breaking news. The latest example of this quick reporting is the earthquake which occurred around Los Angeles on Tuesday morning.
The first update from Twitter followed only seconds after the event occurred. By the time the first official news of the earthquake emerged, about 4 minutes later, there were already thousands of Twitter updates.
Most news agencies that get their information from the Associated Press or similar news wire services, received their first feed about 9 minutes after the incident, by which time Twitter users had started twittering the information to their contacts from wherever they happened to be at that point in time.
It is only fair to mention, as pointed out by Zoli Erdos, that the news agencies have the added responsibility of verifying the facts of an event before reporting them, and they also have to give in-depth reports, all of which takes time, while Twitter does not carry that burden on its shoulders.
Twitter says that it is the real-time aspect of sending and receiving their updates, whether they are related to world events, or personal notes between friends or professionals, or any other form of communication, that is their motivating factor.
To illustrate their point, Twitter even put up a graph displaying the timeline of when news of the California earthquake was delivered on various channels: