Sunday, February 17, 2008

A New Generation of Reporters

Tragedy struck the Northern Illinois University campus on Valentine’s Day. The school shooting ended the lives of five students (six including the gunman) and injured many others. As I browsed the internet looking for up to date information on the unfolding events I began to think about how technology has changed the way we receive breaking news. People at the scene are now becoming reporters by documenting events through cell phone pictures and videos.

The Virginia Tech massacre last year was one of the first times our nation had the opportunity to be on campus in the midst of a school shooting. A student made a cell phone video outside of one of the buildings where the shooting was taking place. The news aired this video giving viewers the unique and chilling experience of being on Virginia Tech’s campus as the events unfolded. You could feel the terror and hear the shock in people’s voices. Experiencing news like this makes events feel more real. The Virginia Tech massacre was not just something that happened at a school far away it was an event that the entire nation experienced together.

The major news organizations (CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, etc.) have added applications on their websites which allow people to upload videos from the scene. News organizations can then search through these videos, pick the most relevant and air them during their broadcast. These videos allow our nation to see what actually happened during a crisis. We do not have to wait for reporters to arrive on the scene, interview people in shock and put together their own skewed versions of the story. We are now able to get a taste of what it is like to be at the scene which makes the news hit more closely to home then was ever possible in the past.

Just think next time you walk out of your house your cell phone video could be the eyes that our nation watches an event unfold though. We are all the new reporters of this generation.

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