Remember the riddle: If a tree falls in the woods and no one was there to see or hear it, how do we know it really fell? The new answer is because of cell phone camera and Facebook and Twitter. Take the recent snow storm in Washington, DC was not only big news in the U.S., it made headlines in Europe. So did the Tweet-up Snow Ball fight with the gun toting off-duty officer. http://bit.ly/7Xz6kW
I saw it as a story and photo in a London newspaper. I was first struck by the fact that the Washington snowball fight was a web and Tweet-up public event. And I thought that 20 somethings didn’t use Twitter. Not sure how many text messages played a part, but probably not very traditional land line calls were involved.
Fast forward to the snow ball fight and the off-duty officer didn’t like his Hummer being hit by snowballs. It wasn’t a reporter from the Washington Post that saw him draw a weapon, it was a snowball revelers with cell phone cameras. http://bit.ly/7yiCSR
The cops issue the usual denials that he drew a gun. Not so, because photos and videos are on YouTube, blogs and pasted on a Facebook page and pretty soon the “traditional media” is picking it up. http://bit.ly/8ccFSh So, a London newspaper writes a story about a tweet-up and Facebook postings and calls it reporting.
Remember the more serious Virginia Tech shootings and the first videos on CNN were from a shakey cell phone. The early videos from demonstrations in Iran were from cell phones. The first information on the point is that in today’s world every cell phone is a camera and every tweet could be global news.
Crisis communicators can’t relax if an incident doesn’t make it to traditional local news. Don’t be paranoid, but monitor the news, Facebook, twitter and blogs.