Although the recent shooting at LAX was nothing short of tragic, it provides a good case study example for how social media platforms, like Twitter and Facebook, aid in the spreading of breaking news. Specifically, the CNN i-Report was all over this shooting, constantly tweeting from @cnnireport.
Let’s go back to the day of the attack- November 1. The first tweet was from CNN’s Brooke Baldwin, but the second was i-Report immediately asking for photos or any information they can get.
Within minutes, there was this:
Look at the photo. Erika’s tweet got a negative reaction because it doesn’t show anything other than airplanes. Twitter users said, what’s the big deal?
One of the most intriguing tweets I saw was this one:
Another interesting aspect to this journalist/source relationship is that @cnnireport actually tags their submitters in tweets whenever possible. They also encourage their followers to follow these people-turned-citizen journalists for a real time update on what was happening at LAX.
Check out this example:
Alone, Tory’s tweet was retweeted 107 times, and favorited 52 times. All of these tweets happened within minutes of each other, providing an up-to-date, “as its happening” view of the situation until more details emerged.
It didn’t seem to matter what the content was, whether it be a quote, or photo, people were interested in just spreading the news as quickly as possible. As judging by Erika’s tweet however, not everything is useful. The race to be first sometimes wins out over the race to be right in the news world, and this photo was one example of that. People like action, emotion, and new information. Anyone can take a photo of an airplane. Famed author and scholar Dan Gillmor, says this race is exactly the problem. In these types of frantic news situations, the best thing to do is sit back and report slowly and accurately, he says. We can analyze for days when all the details come out. Like we are now, after it was just released that the police missed the shooter “by minutes,” as they were asked to do a welfare check on him.
This is one of the downsides of citizen journalism. Human nature is to be competitive, and to provide instant gratification. Part of instant gratification comes from the audience—maybe that’s the world we live in?