Only a few days ago, we were writing about how users of Twitter and Reddit used those networks to tell a compelling story about a mass shooting in Toronto, and now the same phenomenon is playing out in real-time during another horrific incident: a shooting at a movie theater in Colorado that has killed at least a dozen people and wounded more than 50. Although local TV news channels and CNN have been all over the story since it broke late Thursday night, some of the best fact-based information gathering has been taking place on Reddit and via curation tools like Storify. In each of these events, we can see how a new form of journalism — one that blends traditional reporting and crowdsourced reports — is taking shape.
As media writer Andrew Beaujon at the Poynter Institute notes, Reddit quickly became the go-to spot for comprehensive information about the shooting and its aftermath. Although other sites put up Storify collections of tweets from individuals who were at the scene — including one of the victims — as a way of tracking how the news spread, the community of users at Reddit went a step further: they collaborated in real time to produce a continuously updated timeline of the event, complete with links to where they obtained the information. That kind of collaboration is something many cash-strapped newsrooms simply no longer have the resources to produce (Buzzfeed has an interview with the 18-year-old Reddit userwho created most of the timeline).
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Eyewitness reports, crowdsourced timelines, Q&As
But Reddit hosted more than just the timeline: while other mainstream media outlets spoke to people who were near the incident (many of whom added little in the way of useful detail) Reddit had several submissions from members of the community who were actually in the theater when the shooting started — and because of the way Reddit functions, commenters were able to interact with those eyewitnesses in a way that wouldn’t have been possible in any other format except a staged conversation on a TV talk show. Not only that, but one person involved in the incident actually posted photos of their wounds to the site. As one commenter noted:
“How cool is it we can ask a guy a question over the internet about an event that happened less than 8 hours ago firsthand? Reporters couldn’t get on a plane and find someone that quickly. The future is now.”
Read more at Gigaom.com. Matthew Ingram.
Photo credit: wstera2 (Creative Commons)