User-generated content and news

2009 has been the year of user-generated news. Twitter has finally caught on (after 3 years of using it and waiting for others to pick it up, I’m happy to see this). If I’m being totally honest, the last few major news stories that occurred, I found out about via Twitter. I think that’s pretty amazing. I check Twitter maybe once an hour unless I’m involved in something (if I don’t, I end up with 200 tweets to read). If I want up to the minute updates, I check the trending topics. And with each news event, I have been the first person I knew of among others who do not regularly use Twitter to learn information. I basically get all my news from the hive mind.

The Hudson River plane crash showed how a person’s twitpic can hit CNN in the blink of an eye. The pope-tackling that occurred today showed how a cell phone video is not only good enough quality to make out what happens in a small screen with lots of movement, but also hits every news source in the blink of an eye. And the Iranian elections this summer showed the incredible importance of user generated news and content. In a place where no media got in or out, news was being passed almost solely through Twitter. There were so many important photos, videos, and tweets that came through. People saw they had the support of the world just from the sheer number of tweets. It really showed people what exactly was going on in this country in a way nobody had ever seen before. Sure, this has happened and continues to happen in other countries. But there had never been a social media movement for information in this way.

I say this because I came across a video on YouTube that I hadn’t seen (I think we were on our honeymoon when this circulated). It shows a girl, Neda, immediately after she was shot while observing a protest on the street in Iran. The video is 40 seconds long and shows just after the moment Neda is shot, until a few moments after she dies. I’m so glad YouTube continues to host this video, as it is important to that people who choose to view it be able to view it. Neda isn’t the only person to be killed in a senseless manner like this, but social media and activism pair with this horribly graphic video to remind us what happened there.

I’ve embedded the video below, if you want to watch it. Be warned that it is incredibly graphic. It shows a girl’s moment of death. Please don’t watch it unless you take a moment to consider that.