Tweeting Osama’s Death: From Citizen to Journalist
Within hours of learning that Osama bin Laden had been killed in Pakistan, Twitter users realized that a man had unknowingly live-tweeted the raid. Sohaib Athar (@reallyvirtual) showed what happens when ordinary people, by chance, find themselves in the middle of newsworthy events: They act like journalists, sharing information, asking questions, and working with others to figure out what happened. The speed with which his tweets traveled the world show how Twitter can turbocharge simple acts of citizen journalism by spreading them to new audiences. Steve Myers, managing editor of the Poynter Institute’s website, will describe how Athar’s tweets illustrate citizen journalism practices and how U.S. journalists learned of them so quickly. Athar, in his first trip to the U.S. since bin Laden’s killing, will describe what happened, what it was like to be in the middle of an international media scrum, and how the incident has affected his views of the media and changed his use of Twitter.
As the managing editor of Poynter.org, Steve oversees content on the site, edits articles and blogs, and reports on media news and practices. As part of Poynter’s initiative to “make sense of the news,” Steve writes about the different ways that news travels between traditional news orgs and emerging information sources.