As a professional communicator, I studied Monday’s Virginia Tech tragedy from several levels. More than any other news event, I noticed how it was broadcast off-network, on nontraditional channels, evidence of our new age of social networking. Students, faculty, parents, and alumni used Facebook, blogs, and digital repositories to post updates reporting that they were all right. Eyewitnesses used camera-phones to report from inside.
Where many lacked journalistic professionalism, they excelled in the immediacy and point of view. Where many lacked clean editing for style, usage, grammar and punctuation, they wrote with a riveting first-person style that held readers in suspense.
Unaware of the tragedy, I spent most of my day drafting an article communicating how my coworkers are to change information in an on-line system. How trivial compared to the 32 lives changed in this instant.
Blogs, social networking systems, online journals, citizen journalism, instant messaging, camera phones. No editors, no publication cycles, no writing review process; just people telling their stories.
What a new world we live in.