A tragic night capping off a tragic week. Events are still unfolding, but many of have likely or will likely be reading about this morning’s events in Watertown/Boston. As of this writing, it’s 3:59AM.
I was getting ready to watch a movie with my wife until I saw [hashtag] #Watertown pop up on Twitter. For those that don’t use Twitter, a hashtag is a way of stringing Tweets together from different users based on that particular term. Click on #Watertown, and you’d see everyone on Twitter that put that term in their post.
Tweeters posting with #Watertown provided a chilling and real-time play-by-play of the events unfolding in the Boston area. Last word (of this writing) is that two suspects, linked to Monday’s marathon bombings, were involved in a firefight with police. One suspect is dead, the other is still at large.
The way in which today’s news broke will be another indicator of the power of social media.
- TV can’t keep up – between rolling the same stock footage over and over again to awkward moments with reporters that had nothing to report, Twitter users were unabashed in their belittling of CNN and other TV networks in favor of looking at their Twitter feed. Like it or not, the dissemination of information has changed. Journalism has changed. Twitter is now the fastest way for me to find out about breaking news. Though potentially unverified, the names of the suspects were mentioned in the early hours of the day’s events. TV, because of legal recourse, can’t report such information until officially confirmed. And when the networks like CNN get it wrong, they get eviscerated.
- Play-By-Play – all it takes: a Boston police scanner + a Twitter user posting real-time updates. Heck, I clicked on someone’s link that was live streaming a video of his police scanner. I was listening to the brave souls of the BPD on my phone in my living room in NJ…and praying for the safety of all involved.
- Regular People Matter – regular guy Andrew Kitzinberg became MSNBC’s on-site correspondence. A shootout between the police and one of the suspects happened right outside his house. MSNBC cut to Mr. Kitzinberg several times during the night, who provided an incredible eyewitness account and recap of events earlier in the evening. Other residents from the area took video of the events, posted in #Watertown HOURS before they aired on the news networks.
Social media is here to stay. The way we communicate has changed. Overarching all this is that innocent people lost their lives. It was an emotionally-exhausting, gripping night to keep up with. It was simultaneously historic, tragic, and indicative of the society we now live in. If you don’t have Twitter, get on it if for nothing else than staying in the news loop. Mine’s @mikekimtv. I’ll follow you. Most important: may the police catch the remaining cowardly murderer.
How did you stay informed of the Watertown events? Is social media your primary source of news?