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How News Works in the Social Media Era…

May 3, 2011

This is a really interesting look at the stages that news goes though in the modern, networked media age.  This must be because as the volume of people who know about a story – even before official announcements grows, and as they all have the capacity to tweet, like, share, blog about it – so the nature of a major news release changes…

From the time of the reported first tweet on the topic, coming from @KeithUrbahn who lists himself as “Chief of Staff, Office of Donald Rumsfeld, Navy Reserve intel officer, and owner of two miniature dachshunds. Opinions are my own,” which was posted around 10:25 p.m. EDT, Twittersphere and Facebook denizens followed a compressed news cycle as folks waited for confirmation from someone, anyone.

Excitement. These tweets quickly followed expressing a tone of excitement and the thrill of being first to report potentially huge news.

Uncertainty. Almost as fast as the news hit, the doubters came out questioning whether the news was legitimate or not. Some were waiting for the news venue of their choice to weigh in, while others were waiting for the coming statement from the president.

Searching for Validation. Torn between wanting the news to be true and the fear of being wrong, folks turned either reverential in their love of Al-Jazeera or the New York Times or whoever was already reporting details or scornful of those who might have been more cautious.

Confirmation. The White House confirmed, and now the search for meaning, data and tasteless jokes will begin in earnest.

Jokes, Profits and Platitudes. Once confirmed, theplatitudes, jokes and attempts to profit either via owning a domain, a twitter identity (say hello to @ghostosama) or the umpteenth joke about the birthers now asking for a long form death certificate are free to escalate. Meanwhile Google updates its Maps to show the location where bin Laden was killed.

Action. This is where Facebook and social media really shine. From tweets about people seeking more information from friends to those seeking to find out if others are meeting at Ground Zero by checking out a live web cam of the site, people now can learn about news and do something.

Real Analysis. Not on Twitter, unless it’s via a link to a blog or a newspaper. What insight on geopolitics can one really offer in 140 characters?

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