Karen Albritton, Executive Vice President
Every national media event creates an opportunity for a new media or channel to emerge. Network coverage of the Kennedy assassination accelerated the importance of television news. Cable coverage of O.J. Simpson’s white bronco and the ensuing trial propelled CNN, etc.
Yesterday’s tragedy, it seems to me, was social media’s coming out party, as students turned to Facebook to get and give updates on what was really happening – who was okay and who wasn’t. The victims, sadly, were perfect ambassadors for social media – bright, young, technologically-savvy, engaged.
I suppose there was also a mobile emergence with cell videos and text messaging, but with cell lines jamming, those media were not able to communicate real time to small communities of people who had a specific information need. I think mobile media’s day is ahead of us.
What it seems to me that social media did through this event was what it’s best at – answering an individual’s personal question or need and giving the individual an outlet to speak – not to a mass audience.
People were saying . . . I need to know right now if my son, daughter, friend, girlfriend, boyfriend, husband, wife, father, mother, cousin, high school best friend is okay. I want to express right now my relief, sadness, grief, anger, love. . . Sure, I’m part of the bigger tragedy, but right now I want to communicate with and grieve with my small, personal community.