Sunday, June 14, 2009

Are you seeing this?

We are seeing history in the making, my friends.

Whether we really want to admit it or not, we often only get information that other people want us to see. Yes, we have many news outlets; the evening news, newspapers, magazines, etc. But much of what we read has been orchestrated by those sitting in power. I'm not talking deep conspiracies here, but the simple fact that there are a relatively small number of people who decide what gets put on the front page, and we often miss important stories because the people sitting in the big offices decide to run something else.

Case in point. Iran just held elections. There have been protests and violence in the streets of Iran; people fighting for their right to have a voice in their government. You have probably heard of it by now, but you almost missed it.

At first the news coverage of the event was all but absent. The lead article on CNN's homepage was a story about how the US just made the switch to digital broadcast signal. The FCC recieved 300,000 calls. Exciting, eh? Only a single sentence mentioned anything at all about the protests in Iran.

In another day and age, that would be the end of the story. A nation would struggle and the rest of the world would move on unaware. We wouldn't get the information because there are simply no channels. What are we supposed to do, hear it from those right on the streets?

Well, yes.

We have twitter. I'm watching thousands of posts scroll by, all with the keyword #iranelection. I'm hearing people posting what is going on right outside their homes. I'm reading US supporters setting up proxys by which Iranians can get their Tweets out. I'm seeing people changing their proiles to green, to show their support. And it's all in real time.

I also saw another significant hash tag--#cnnfail. Yes, twitterers protested the lack of coverage that CNN and other news sources were giving to the event. From The New York Times (free subscription requireD):

"Steve LaBate, an Atlanta resident, said on Twitter, “Why aren’t you covering this with everything you’ve got?” About the same time, CNN was showing a repeat of Larry King’s interview of the stars of the “American Chopper” show. For a time, new criticisms were being added on Twitter at least once a second."

That is right, the world hear of an event because people were twittering it. Then they demanded coverage, and got it. As I type this I'm now seeing images and coverage from the Iran elections as the lead story on CNN's page. People demanded to hear more about the event, and CNN gave it to them.

If that doesn't make you want to go sign up for a twitter account, I don't know what will. We're living in a new world folks, and it seems to me to be getting more and more exciting every day.


bowler said...

it's awesome that Twitter and other online social media outlets do so much to level the information playing field

Meg said...

I have a twitter account. I really like it a lot!