Has Real-Time Citizen News Arrived?

Feb 13th, 2009 | By | Category: Citizen Media, Commentary, Video

When tragedy strikes, the 24-hour news networks are there, to bring you the catastrophe in immediate, agonizing detail.

But Thursday night, when a Continental Airlines commuter plane crashed near Buffalo, NY, the major networks’ coverage didn’t come from a local affiliate camera crew dispatched to the scene. News networks, including Fox News, CNN, MSNBC and BBC all immediately and prominently covered the disaster with amateur video shot by individuals who arrived on the scene right after the crash.

One clip that was broadcast over and over on several channels was a 2-minute YouTube video by SpikeTheCowboy711 whose terse summary says, “Plane crashed a few blocks from my house. I filmed it.” Barely 12 hours after the plane crashed, this video clip had already racked up 196,887 views.

The amateur footage is, well, amateurish, shot with shaky mobile phones, blurry through chain-link fencing. But even so, the speed with which these “citizen journalists” were on the scene of the crash, and the fact that their video was picked up and passed along by so quickly by the major networks seems to mark a turning point in news coverage.

Has real-time citizen news arrived?

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