As more details surface about the most impressive covert operation in history, what will stand prominently in the background of the historic event will be the coverage of the event itself. Before CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, Fox News, Associated Press, Reuters, or any other major news reporting service ever broke the story of Osama bin Laden's death or the President's announcement of bin Laden's death, Twitter, the 140 character microblogging site, lit up like a switchboard once the first rumor of bin Laden's death was uttered from one invidual to another.
Yesterday, May 1, 2011 at 10:36 p.m. EST, the 44th President of the United States of America, Barack Hussein Obama, made an announcement of historic proportions. President Obama confidently walked up to the podium and relayed to the world that its most wanted man and chief terrorist leader, Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden, had been killed by U.S. Navy Seals under the Joint Special Operations Command forces in the resort town of Abbottabad, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan.
The incredible drama began with a White House announcement shortly after 10:00 p.m. EST that the President would address the nation on matters concerning national security.
Twitter's impact was immediate. The first reliable source came from Keith Urbahn, spokesman for former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld who served under George W. Bush from 2001 to 2006.
After Urbahn's tweet, networks began flashing alerts to its viewers that the President would make an important statement to the country addressing national security. Urbahn's tweet became viral - it was retweeted hundreds thousands of times. Celebrities, athletes, and other public figures began commenting on the impending announcment. Tensions heightened. It appeared as if everyone knew what was about to be announced before it was announced. Minutes later, major networks began to report that the statement by the President would address the death of Osama Bin Laden. First CBS, then Fox News and then NBC.
The New York Times became the first major newspaper online to report Osama bin Laden's death. Reuters followed suit, and CNN finally reported, including first details of the operation.
Twitter continued to lead information reporting even after news of bin Laden's death. Tweets mentioning May 1st as the anniversary of Great Britain announcing the death of Adolf Hitler as well as the 8th anniversary of "Mission Accomplished' by former President George W. Bush came out hours before any major new source posted such extremely valuable information.
The explosion of reports of Osama bin Laden's death on Twitter forced major networks to "break" the news before the President addressed the American public. "Breaking News" does not have the same ring to it as it did before. With a worldwide community connected by social networks, including sources of news themselves, mainstream media is now in the catch up business to report major news stories. Osama bin Laden death shows the dynamic of news reporting has changed for good. One thing is for sure: Twitter is the new Associated Press.
Exavier B. Pope, Esq. is an entertainment/sports and corporate attorney and a legal blogger for Chicago Now. All opinions expressed are solely those of Mr. Pope.
(c) 2011 Exavier B. Pope, Esq.
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Posted April 10, 2013 at 9:30 am
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