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Front page of the Arizona Republic. They might say print is dead, but there is something remarkable about historical front page, even though it's old news by the time it hits your doorstep.

??In case you haven’t heard, Osama bin Laden is dead.

We saw the earthquake and tsunami devastate Japan, captured by those most affected. We’ve seen the wrath of Mother Nature in the South from people unsure if the tornado would suddenly turn in their direction. We could see every step from every angle of a commoner becoming royalty.

But we won’t see this phenomenal piece of history. We will hear the stories and no doubt there will be coverage after the fact, but it will lack the personal, gut-wrenching visuals. We won’t see thousands of amateur YouTube videos of the attack as it’s happening, taken by camera phones and posted in real-time.

Except there was one. One man unknowingly gave us real-time information on the raid via Twitter. When @ReallyVirtual, an IT consultant named Sohaib Athar living in Abbottabad, tweeted “Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event)” he was reporting an observance. When he reported a nearby helicopter crash, he noted the rumor mill was up and running.

When he tweeted the experience as an innocent bystander looking for answers, he accidently became the go-to news source to millions of people.

He is now the top tweeter on trending topics regarding the raid in Pakistan. I do not know how many followers he had prior to the event, but as I write this he has more than 60,000. That’s up from the 40,000 he had when I started following him earlier today.

In only a few months –extremely historical months – we have seen the power social networks have over the entire globe. Facebook freed a country. Twitter foreshadowed the biggest triumph in the war against al-Qaida to date. YouTube put us in the middle of natural disasters that (hopefully) none of us will ever experience.

Regardless of your political preference, this is a time for the citizens of America to come together once again. I can only hope people are encouraged to put their differences aside, inspire to help those ravaged with tragedies, praise those with good fortune and tell the world: #WeAreUnited.

Stephanie Lough
Stephanie Lough
A former HMA Public Relations employee.

2 Comments

  1. At least this was accurate information. Remember the Gabby Giffords shooting and all the incorrect tweets about it, her condition, etc.?

  2. Stephanie Lough says:

    That’s the tricky thing — the risk you take with social media reported news. Though now even legit news stations pull information from Tweets (even CNN reported Giffords death). I find it fascinating that social media can sky-rocket people into the public eye, especially without much effort. Can you imaging divulging history-making news (at least the events leading up to it) intentionally? I’m not sure if “right place at the right time” would apply to this…

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