Like much of the world, I learned of bin Laden's death on Twitter, and that initial excitement carried the thrill of a whispered rumor. But that's all it carried. It took me about thirty seconds to realize that nothing I wanted to know about his death — its consequences and ramifications, primarily, but also its circumstances and, secondarily, the reactions in the U.S. of people most affected by the 9/11 attacks — could or would ever be available on Twitter in a form useful to me.
For that I'll have to turn to newspapers, magazines (television, too, I suppose) and their online imitators. So, while social media may be a useful canary in a coal mine for news organizations and for the reading, listening and watching public, they're nothing more than starting points for news. If Twitter offers news, I want something else. I want the story.
I thought of both as I read an article in my newspaper about Twitter and bin Laden's death that quotes a social news editor of the Huffington Post thus:
“At one time, they all would have had to go the White House or ground zero or a baseball game. But now people could stay at their houses and be part of this outpouring of emotion and the conversation.”Ballard would have shuddered — if he didn't laugh his ass off.
© Peter Rozovsky 2011