How Osama Bin Laden Ruined Traditional Media

Kyle Reed // @kylereed

Many have claimed that the death of Osama Bin Laden has ushered in the death of modern news media. I definitely cannot argue with this point. If you so happened to tune into twitter on Sunday night you found yourself in a whirlwind of conversation, discovery, and a bit of chaos. Twitter and television have shifted roles. Where as Twitter use to be the background noise, television has provided the background noise to the conversations that are taking place online.

I think we can all agree that Twitter is changing the way we get our news, but what I do not hear people talking about is how we discuss the news. Twitter has changed the way that we not only get our news but it has changed the way we think and discuss the news.

Let me illustrate with the way my Sunday night and Monday went down.

After hearing about the breaking news I immediately fired up Twitter for iPhone and started to read what my friends were saying about what was taking place. As I followed the conversation for the next two hours I engaged in conversation, started and then deleted tweets, took part in a blog conversation, and sent out several retweets. It made that night even more memorable and engaging. But the interesting thing is that after about two hours of discussing a historical moment I didn’t speak of it again.

See I think twitter has changed the way we discuss news. Previously, we had to wait to discuss events that happened on the weekend. We had to wait to ask friends where they were on Septemeber 11th or what they were doing when they found out Kennedy was shot. That was the way traditional media worked. We got it from the television or print and then had to wait until we could discuss it with friends or family. But twitter has changed it all. Now we have immediate access to friends and family. And not only do we have access we have immediate opinion.

I quickly realized this to be true when I talked to my dad on Monday. Neither of us mentioned the news. In fact my day was void of this news. It wasn’t discussed in a later conversation that day with Brewster, nor with my friend Matt or my friends at the coffee shop. It took me until 7pm that night when I met up for dinner with Jeremy and Derrian to have the conversation on the historic news.

We definitely live in a time where we receive noise I mean news at the speed of light.
But I wonder what the instant gratification of news has done to us?

It seems that in some ways it has caused us to want more. It has caused us to move on quicker, to process less, and to find that next fix. I love the information highway that is twitter. It is my place to find inspiration,  conversation, and reaction, but sometimes I wonder if we would do better to turn off the noise and spend more time with what we are reading, thinking, and hearing? I wonder that in a time with thousands of resources we have come become dumber? that even with everything at our fingertips we are worse off then before?

Question: So where did you discuss the Osama Bin Laden news? What was the percentage of twitter conversation vs real life conversation?


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Kyle Reed

Posts Twitter

I create websites, conversations, and ideas. Advocate for the 20 somethings. Looking to connect everyone to a mentor. Married to my best friend, Ginny. I like my coffee black and my dog Jack. I currently live in Nashville and work at Sony Music/Provident in Nashville
  • Matthew Snider

    Great points Kyle. Things to ponder for sure.

    My thing about Twitter and News in general is that it has become more and more socialized, thus becoming more and more opinionized. I don’t watch TV, so I don’t watch the news, I don’t feel like I am missing things because I have my phone and the net to look through.

    For me though, news at the speed of light leaves a lot to be desired. Is it correct, is it an attempt to get traffic, is it only for the purpose of instant consumption?

    The idea of instant gratification is one that I think the Bible speaks to a lot. In this day and age everything is instant.

    There is some truth to the old adage, “good things come to those who wait”.

    Good stuff brother!

    • Kyle Reed

      absolutely agree and I think that is the issue, we are an instant society and in a lot of cases that is not the best.

      I think in an age where flipping the normal experience is very successful (groupon with coupons type things) this could be a way of doing that, taking the opposite approach

  • Jonathan Pearson

    I found out that the President’s announcement was going to happen through a tweet. I completely agree that twitter has changed the way we get news and discuss news. What I’ll be interested to see is how national news continues to involve twitter users and discussion into their broadcasts. I think they have to do it before the public tunes them out more and more.

    • Kyle Reed

      I think yes on most of that but I also think that they need to take some of that and go opposite.
      See the thing that I am noticing is that even though we have instant access to the news we are no better for it. In fact it seems that we glaze over a lot of details because we have had the microwave version and not the full cooked version. I am very guilty of this myself.

      I just find it interesting that the response the news has is to smothering a topic with 24/7 coverage and miss the fact that people need time to discuss, think, and formulate an opinion.

  • austinklee

    The most interesting thing of the whole experience is that by the time President Obama took the podium, we didn’t need to hear what he said.

    He actually rehashed everything that we already learned from Twitter.

    Another thing I have noticed recently is that local news stations are still “teasing” feature stories for their newscasts. They will have a commercial that says, “Blah, blah, blah….find out why at 11.” I used to have to wait to figure out what they were going to say…but now if story interests me I just google it and can usually find everything I need to know and just skip the news all together.

    News is DYING in most places. 11Alive the NBC affiliate here in Atlanta has a news show at 7pm with their lead anchor that is a fast paced “Top 11” news stories of the day program. They have a scrolling Twitter stream at the bottom of the screen for people to interact with the news as it happens.

    More stations need to figure out how to harness the power of social media to enhance their news coverage…or we will just tune out.

    • Kyle Reed

      Yup, I remember thinking that the president was probably mad that everyone already knew what he was going to say. Almost like the media stole his thunder.

      I mean that did not happen two years ago. It was rare to find things out that early.

      But yes, we are in an age where we can find out anything we want an instant. Now the question is, what will we do with it and how will we use it?

  • Tyler Braun

    Twitter broke the news for me, which is normally does because I’m usually connected to Twitter most of the time.

    But I don’t think traditional media is going away because of Twitter. I’ll give a couple reasons why…

    1. Most people aren’t on Twitter. Even fewer that are on Twitter use Twitter throughout the day. Most just get on once or twice a day or even a week. Hard for Twitter to replace traditional media if a majority isn’t adopting it.

    2. Twitter breaks news but then Twitter quickly shifts into opinion sharing instead of more in depth news. Maybe it’s because I follow mostly personal accounts instead of news or journalist accounts. I don’t hate the opinion sharing but many people will be turned off by it.

    • Kyle Reed

      yes well said on both of those reasons. I don’t know if I truly believe that traditional news will ever go away, at least not any time soon. There is a shift happening.

      But what fascinates me is how little we talk about things. It is like we discuss something for a day and then move on to something new.

  • Tyler

    It’s strange now that you mention it. I’ve seen nearly 100 articles concerning Osama, and read some interesting stuff from ABC news and CNN. I’ve seen just as many tweets and status updates but I don’t think I’ve had a single conversation with anyone about it.

    • Kyle Reed

      exactly, it is a bit weird

  • Jenny

    Strangely, It was facebook for me. I had a group from school over at my place and saw a status from a conservative friend, and at first i thought he was just being a jerk and making stuff up… then quickly checked twitter, where it was confirmed (I don’t own a TV).

    Monday and Tuesday though, i kind of distanced myself from twitter. It was too much. Where the news doesn’t have as many opinions twitter does, and sometimes it’s just too much. I was much happier listening to NPR monday morning to find out more details of what happened, versus reading a twitter feed. Twitter is and i doubt will ever be a reliable source to get news. Besides, like Tyler said… most people aren’t on twitter.

    • Kyle Reed

      so did you engage in any offline convos about it?

      • Jenny

        Yes, i my dad was was leaving the country monday so i made sure to call him first thing in the morning to talk to him about what he thought. I also had a long discussion with my older sister, and an elderly neighbor. Some of my professors brought it up as well, and my comm tech professor (the class i think you should teach) brought up the same observation as you did about social media and traditional media.

        • Kyle Reed

          wow, so you had some good convo about it. that is good

  • jenni

    I, for one, truly appreciated the conversation about this current affair. For the most part, people seemed pretty respectful within their debates. And in the end, I was stretched and challenged in my thinking.

    I can’t say my stance has changed… but I feel like I have a more full and rounded grasp of why I believe what I do now… and that’s always a good thing.

    Btw… thanks for the link love and shout-out.

    • Kyle Reed

      yup, thanks for starting that convo, hopefully it wont be limited to just that one day