9/11/01. Fark.com. Ten years ago. That’s when I first got a glimpse of the future of journalism. Sorry Reddit and everyone who thinks this is something new. It’s been happening like this for a while. Twitter, anyone?
On the night of the massacre that killed 12 people in Aurora, Colo., 18-year-old Morgan Jones of Denver was up late playing a video game when he spied a Facebook update from his local news station reporting a possible shooting at a movie theater. Jones began a thread on the popular social-media news site Reddit that over the course of the night morphed into what many are describing as the most comprehensive timeline to emerge from the event, replete with minute-by-minute tweets from witnesses, reports from traditional media sources, and police scanner updates. Jones and his fellow Redditors also had some major scoops, unearthing the picture of alleged shooter James Holmes from the online dating site AdultFriendFinder.com, the first to show him with his distinctive red hair. Many commentators say Reddit’s coverage exemplifies a new breed of journalism, though some, like CNN’s Howard Kurtz, criticized the timeline as error-ridden.