the world has changed

Osama Bin Laden has been killed by U.S. covert ops in Pakistan. It was not Obama, Obama Bin Laden or “President Obama” as various news agencies around the U.S. accidentally reported last night. But I’m not going to talk about such stunning displays of incompetence. What I’m more surprised about is the way the news broke.

On 9/11, just about everyone saw the horrific news on their television, just as they watched the Challenger, Vietnam war reports, and the JFK assassination. Last night, millions of people watched as it unfolded on Twitter. I was not one of those, and instead tuned into CNN in true old-school fashion. But if I had not been writing a paper, I might have been on Twitter to witness the news revolution in person.

Instead of broadcast reporting, both regular users and news agencies first posted statements online, and then followed up with details over time. Twitter was by far the fastest way to spread the information, but that’s not the most surprising part. That award goes to @ReallyVirtual, a Pakistani IT consultant who actually live tweeted news of the covert operation. From his abode in Abbottabad, Pakistan, he reported a firefight and helicopter crash at 1 am, hours before anyone else managed to break the news. The fact that a part-time blogger reported in real time on a top secret mission against arguably the world’s most wanted criminal is simply fascinating.

It looks like TV lost this story. We’ve moved to a different news source and a different type of news reporter. Anyone with an internet connection can now change the world.

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