In the not-so-distance past, getting the story out within nine minutes was considered damn good. The TV station got something out four minutes after the quake. The first Twitter, seconds after the quake. Yeah, it's different, but it's still news.
By the time AP moved a story, Twitter already had thousands of first-hand reports. Twitter has often been described as micro-blogging, but the Twitter blog says that for many people, the concept of Twitter is evolving to personal news-wire. We've seen this all along, but it's growing. Here's the LA Times story on quake twittering.
From the Twitter blog:
Many news agencies get their feed from a news wire service such as the Associated Press. "Strong quake shakes Southern California" was pushed out by AP about 9 minutes after people began Twittering primary accounts from their homes, businesses, doctor's appointments, or wherever they were when the quake struck. Whether it's updates from best friends, internet pals, companies, brands, or breaking world events, the real-time aspect of sending and receiving Twitter updates continues to motivate our work.