I’m not here to talk about the crash.
I’m not here to talk about how I was worried for my roommate, my friends, and how others were equally worried for me.
I’m not here to talk about how shocking the images are and how people are going to have a tough commute Tuesday.
What I want to write about is how Monday’s experience really showed me how the communication of breaking news has changed thanks to social media.
There’s already been plenty of talk on how Twitter and The Internet has aided protests of the Iranian Election, but today really showed me first hand what everybody else was talking about.
So let me share a few things with you.
Be careful Red Line Metro Riders! RT @metro_man Red line crashed!
— Meghan McMahon (@meggiepoo) June 22, 2009
This was the first tweet I saw about the Metro Crash, as you can read in my Metblogs piece I initially brushed it off. However take a look at her tweet, it is actually a retweet of another person she follows. Thanks to tools like Twitter, news has become more viral. On Twitter news spreads because we become a part of the broadcast.
Mass Media was comprised of Newspapers and we learned about events days or weeks after they occurred. Along came television and 24 hour news networks and when news happened we heard of it quicker and we turned our eyes to the televisions. During 9/11 I was in a high school classroom, glued to the CNN broadcast. Information could reach a mass audience faster, but we were still subject to the whim of news producers at those stations.
Now with Twitter first hand accounts and information can reach a mass audience in no time. The tweet above was sent minutes after the crash occurred. News channels were soon showing photos from Twitter alongside their own footage. With Social Media we become part of the news making process as well. Famous DC retweeted some news I tweeted as I was following the story.
Twitter’s short messages makes the news making process byte sized and thus we’ve moved our gaze from the TV to the computer screen, waiting for the next 140 characters to tell us more.
Talking more about becoming part of the news, take a look at a Google News search for “Metro Crash.” The 4th result down is the post I wrote over on DC Metblogs. I didn’t realize my DC blog was considered a news source but it doesn’t surprise me that news organizations are looking at Social Media when reporting their stories. News organizations see Social Media as the future and they gotta keep up or be left behind.
Finally Twitter is also being used as the mass messaging tool to check on loved ones and make sure everyone is ok. The website Breaking Tweets wrote a great piece on how Twitter was used during the accident which includes checking in on people. Even a DC injury lawyer also advocates the use of Twitter as a way to tell everyone, “I’m ok.”
Technology is constantly changing the way we respond when crisis strikes. It was only back in 2007 when Facebook was used during the Virginia Tech shootings; now Twitter has taken its place as the breaking news platform of choice. I’m sure one day another tool will come along that will make communication faster, robust, and more widespread than it is now.