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By Ed Nicholson

I’m in the process of working with Michael Clark on preparing a Social Media 101 presentation to make next week.   To show how social media are influencing the news cycle, I decided to closely follow the crash of USAir Flight 1549 to see how social media were engaged in reporting the story.

Since I manage Tyson’s Twitter account, I keep Twhirl up on my desktop, and in the process of posting something about a food drive we had going in NY last Thursday, I noticed this tweet  pop up from Janis Krums. – There’s a plane in the Hudson. I’m on the ferry going to pick up the people. Crazy. 2:36 PM Jan 15th from TwitPic

He posted this photo via TwitPic as the boat was arriving to the crash scene.   I’m told CNN had the photo up in a matter of minutes. When you look at the video linked below, notice how quickly boats gather around the plane. Gives you some context as to how early on the scene these guys were.

If you go to page 2 of his Twitter timeline, you can follow the series of events as he tweets them up to and following the crash.

He ended up on MSNBC that night, Good Morning America the next morning, and CNN the next day. 

Here’s some Coast Guard video of the crash and moments thereafter (see the plane come in from the left–interesting how fast the whole scene moves downstream)


Flickr has 1149 photos tagged Flight 1549.

On  a side note, also social media-related, the plane’s pilot, Captain “Sully” Sullivan has become an overnight celebrity,  Someone started a Facebook group for him on Thursday night, and by Saturday morning it had 125K members.   I started picking of screen shots of the page on Saturday morning, and it was quite interesting to see  how quickly it grew. As of this writing, he has 393K fans and 17K wall posts.

These are but a very few examples of how people on or near the scene of this particular incident related their experiences to their established networks and beyond. Of course, one can’t deny that the fact this happened in NY enhanced the probability that citizen journalists would be on the scene, and that there would be a lot of them.  Mainstream media will continue to play a critical role in ensuring the news is reported credibly and professionally.

For those of us involved in media relations, it’s a great reminder that for the foreseeable future, closely-connected networks of people with access to social media tools can and will affect the coverage of breaking news.


Written by Ed Nicholson

January 19, 2009 at 4:42 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. Great post Ed! Thought I’d share with everyone how it went. Tuesday afternoon about 1:30 p.m. during the #nwaicestorm09, we forged our way to the Cosmopolitan Convention room traveling through ice laden streets and pathways to find a group of eager participants of social media: Southern Regional Foresters from the US Forest Service Communications Offices. Upon our arrival the power went and came, and at the very moment we set up the projector and our laptops, the power surged to never return again. Literally by candlelight, a single K2-LED flashlight, several thumb drives (which I highly recommend for conference gimmies btw) and whatever life was left in the lithium batteries in the room, we pulled it off. It was an informative excersise in two-way communications about social media, impact on business objectives and overall it was basic enough to get people to consider entering the space. I’m really looking forward to our next presentation.

    Michael Clark

    February 9, 2009 at 11:15 am

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