Tragedy & Social Media

I really didn’t want to write about the Virginia Tech shootings this week, but I can’t escape how it illustrates the shift in media:

  • Journalists now look to their audience & social media for sources.
    Through blogs, social networks, comments, photos, videos, and forums – journalists are finding sources in new places.

  • Expectations of the audience have grown.
    Direct access to primary sources, such as unedited videos of an event, is now expected.
  • Even the murderer video-blogged his experience.
    How unbelievable is it, that in the middle of a mass murder, he stopped to – essentially – blog about it.

  • The victims are closer to us than ever.
    People are linking to the MySpace and Facebook pages of some of the victims. It is such a more powerful experience to get a glimpse of their lives as they expressed it, than treat them as a statistic or hear a filtered view of who they were.

  • Everyone is a journalist.
    While the shootings were still taking place, someone was recording a video of it, staying close to the scene. As time moves on, I think more and more people will put themselves in harms way in order to report on an event.

As Dan Gillmor writes:

“We used to say that journalists write the first draft of history. Not so, not any longer. The people on the ground at these events write the first draft.”

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