Sunday, May 1, 2011

Bin Laden, breaking news, and social media

It's 8:28 Sunday evening. I'm sitting on my couch, laptop sitting on my lap, TV on -- watching and reading the news about Osama Bin Laden reportedly dead.

I first heard the reports around 7:40.
At the grocery store.
On my phone's Twitter application.

Now I'm home. My ears are focused on the TV, eyes on social media websites, fingers to the keys.

Social media is blowing up.
People tweeting elated emotions.
News outlets reporting the latest information they have.
Friends retweeting what they've seen.

Chris made a great point, Twitter is great for breaking news, because you can pass on information and tweets with the click of a button. News, information, word spreads like an epidemic on Twitter.

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I'm watching Brian Williams on the NBC Special Report. He's in the newsroom, anchoring coverage. On a Sunday night.
Does he sleep at the headquarters?

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I got chills at the end of Obama's speech. Incorporating the Pledge of Allegiance was brilliant. Resurrected the words that are usually repeated with monotony; giving them refreshed meaning.

It's a rallying point for Americans.

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After the President's speech and networks went back to regular programming, but the 24-hour stations kept covering news, I realized there was somewhere else that was more captivating: Twitter. News organizations and a profile called "Breaking News" were re-tweeting updates from the scenes of spontaneously rallies: The White House and Ground Zero.

But the tweets weren't from professional reporters, they were coming from participants.

Documented and distributed by @gracecaudle

Twitter allows us to be anywhere instantly.

There's also this fascinating NY Times blog about how the news leaked on social media.

Twitterers and Facebookers knew what the President was going to say an hour before he said it, and before many TV News outlets reported it.

The tide has turned.

A co-worker at my station, who's been in the news biz for several decades just updated his Facebook status: "In the age of social media, the Big Speech by a president seems less important. The old news model just ain't what it used to be."

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I believe tonight will be a "Where were you when?..." moment. It's no where near as significant as some others -- the moon landing, JFK's assassination, and 9/11, itself -- but for young people my age, an overarching underlying thread of news in our lives has been dominated by September 11th and the War on Terror.

I'll remember the surging feelings regarding the announcement of Bin Laden's death.
But what will stick out more for me is the surge of social media leading up to, during, and following the announcement.


  1. I was at a nice dinner with my family, and I had just texted my uncle about babysitting the next day. In his reply, he said "Yes please. Can u be here by 11? By the way, we killed Bin Laden. Check news."

    It was so simple and matter-of-fact, and thanks to a world of smart phones, we were all able to jump on our favorite app or website to check it out. We had CNN, Facebook, Twitter, and more. Social Media and technology at their finest!!