Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

U.S. Airways Flight 1549, Twitter and an Amazing Photo

First things first: Everyone on U.S. Airways flight 1549, which landed in the Hudson River this afternoon a few minutes after it took off from LaGuardia, appears to be safe. Amazing.

Second thing: I learned this via Twitter this afternoon, via fellow Twitterer Dave Martin, who was “re-tweeting” information he’d picked up via the Chicago CBS TV station’s Twitter account, which was passing along information it had received from CBS News.

Similarly, I am learning, via Twitter, that this amazing picture from Twitterer Janis Krums, who posted it to Twitpic, is the “first” photo of the airplane in the water. No idea if that’s true–was someone monitoring all news outlets simultaneously before they reached this conclusion?–but it is an extraordinary photo.

In the old days, this image might have taken hours or even days to make it to cable news–think of those terrible videos that people shot with their home cameras during the first few minutes of 9/11. Today Krums was being interviewed on MSNBC 34 minutes after he posted the photo, says Dan Frommer at Silicon Alley Insider.

So: Did Twitter “break” news today? Did “citizen journalists” really ”beat” the bad-old MSM? It’d be great if we could skip that debate. Because it will be as boring as the one we had last month after the terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

So let’s get it over with quickly: I learned that there was a plane in the water via Twitter, via a whole lot of people who live and work on the west side of Manhattan. But the people who told me what had happened after that, and the ones who are telling me why the plane ended up in the water in the first place–those are people who have full-time jobs as journalists. Like the six people who contributed to this excellent report for the New York Times (NYT) Web site.

So I plan on relying on those folks for my news for as long as there’s a business to support them. But I’ll be using Twitter and the Web to augment that coverage–to tell me something very quickly, or to pass along news gleaned from news reports in the first place. See? Easy. Now I’m going to listen to WNYC, the local NPR station, which has been going wall-to-wall with this story all afternoon.


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There was a worry before I started this that I was going to burn every bridge I had. But I realize now that there are some bridges that are worth burning.

— Valleywag editor Sam Biddle