I have been watching MSNBC this morning as they replayed the NBC coverage of the tragic events of September 11, 2001. One thing that struck me is that this event was covered well before social media/networking was developed.
MySpace which was the first social media platform of note didn’t start until 2003. Blogging was around but hadn’t reached critical mass at the time. News outlets had websites that were hit heavily by users wanting to get as much information as possible.
The most bandwidth people could get was about 3mb on a cable modem like I had at the time. Some businesses would have a T-1 line if they had to provide Internet access to many users like the newspaper I worked for in 2001. The World Wide Web was tested that day.
Some news websites had to alter their functionality to give more information on the chaos of the day. Style gave way to basic function with fewer images and more text to give more users access to vital info. Press services such as the AP and Reuters fed information to media outlets so they could relay information to their viewers, listeners and readers. Network and 24 hour news outlets led the way in bringing pictures and sound into the homes of people around the country and the world.
Landlines and cell phones at the time were the primary communication tools for people across the country including New York and Washington, DC during the events of that day. Texting was in its infancy, however people used pagers to connect with business and personal contacts. In the areas hit phone lines were jammed with people wanting to connect with others.
Technology has improved, the web has come along to give us Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter and other sites. Text messages are sent in the billions daily. Twenty-four hour news has integrated social media into how they transmit and receive the news. Citizen journalism is a everyday part of our lives.