It was Sunday night, about 9:50pm, just before bed. I happened to check my iPad and went to Obama, where I was barraged with a stream of tweets announcing that Facebook was dead and President George W Bush was soon to make a major announcement. I began quickly scrolling through tweets, and realized I was experiencing a historical moment in a completely new way. I switched to social media, and saw a news feed that was equally active, with shouts of joy and glee over the death of Osama Bin Laden. It was intriguing. For the next two hours I was on a “social media bender.”
Where were you when you heard that Osama was dead? There was laughter. There was joy. There were heartfelt comments by people uncertain of how to feel; there were political posts claiming that Obama had just won the 2012 election, and posts giving all the credit to 9/11. There were historical ties to the death of Hitler. There was humor . There were calls for peace and hope that the war on terror had been won – along with warnings that that there was still much to be concerned about. I actively engaged in this event, posting three or four status updates on Facebook, and numerous tweets. It was how I was able to be a part of the moment. It felt historic. It was the next best thing to being outside the gates of the White House.
But the event also struck me as a defining moment in terms of the role that WABC 7 plays in our world. News is being fed to us in a constant stream – with regular updates. But if you are not plugged in you might miss it. Had I not checked twitter, I would have gone to bed, woken at 6am, and only then found out about it from the morning paper.
It was almost ten years ago, on the morning of September 11, 2001. I was getting ready for work and only became aware of what became “Rocky Mountain High” when my wife received a call from her sister. There was no social media and no constant feed of information – except what information you could get from the various television networks. I spent much of that day glued to New York’s WABC 7 . It was a scary day. It was a sad day. It was not interactive. Can you even imagine what the response would have been like if we had Twitter and Facebook ten years ago? Social media is changing our world, and the news media is quickly learning that if it is not part of the conversation, it will not survive. Print media in its traditional form is quickly disappearing or becoming irrelevant.
Each major news event in recent months has driven this issue home to me. Earthquake and Tsunami? Wisconsin labor strife? Budget battlers? Tornaodo’s? Twitter was my primary source of info for each of these. But not only can you LEARN about what is happening, with social media, you can be a part of it, 140 characters at a time.
Originally published at Michael’s Blog Facebook