“Using Twitter to track a rioting city. Traditional media just died,” posted emilyhku to Twitter following the San Francisco Giants World Series victory, using the hash tag “sfriot”. This witty musing on the nature of the ever changing American media landscape however came just 5 minutes after sac news wire Tweeted that “multiple people [were] struck by gun fire,” reflecting the theme among the voices pulsating from The City of San Francisco police Scanner, made available by Itunes, as down town San Francisco was speckled with riots last night.
Although Twitter has emerged as an up to the second news source in the age of new, or digital media, hailed by many as the key to future “citizen journalism,” the difference in the comments via Twitter and the comments made by SFPD during “the riot” shows disconnect between the events that transpired and the reporting done online.
“Yes, son,” posted alexia, “your dad was the mayor of the San Francisco riot,” referring to the use of new social networking tool, 4square, where users can check into places and events to earn points, or even the title “mayor” for an establishments most common regular, in this mornings mayhem.
Later, SFPD were heard saying over the scanner, “can anyone check on the 240 victim in front of Safeway at 4th and Townsend,” referring either to a person who had been assaulted or stabbed or possibly both.
“Another reason I’m glad I don’t own retail store fronts,” posted by aaronpk, after a crowd reportedly smashed the front window to a Borders near the baseball park, which was bookend by the SFPD’s statements, “ this guys got one to the chest” and “respond to severe head laceration.”
All the while, the Twitter-sphere wondered where “the riot” could be found on traditional media. “Traditional media is dead,” posted edwardmarcel, “nothing on MSNBC, Fox, or CNN about the sfriot. However it is on Twitter and 4square and it has a mayor!”
Some responded, the reason being “the SF riot” was actually being blown out of proportion by the said new media, including amylukima. “I have never been more disappointed in Twitter,” she posted, “#sfriot is completely fake and forcing me to answer late night phone calls from my mom.”
Nevertheless, the sirens shrieked up and down the streets and helicopters rumbled and glided through the sky till nearly 2:30 in the morning and the police scanner’s conversations became increasingly tense and disorientated, calling for response to a possible 801, or suicide, and the canceling of a code 33, meaning stay off of the radio due to a mobile emergency.
All of this information however was taken from multiple sources on the Internet, which taken as a whole provides a clearer picture then anyone of its parts. Twitter alone is merely a rolling timeline of the San Franciscan’s presumed wit, blogged and tweeted to the world from the safety of a computer desk. The dispatch alone paints the picture of an entire city burning to the ground. Photographs alone present the young men atop a fire truck or lighting their shirts on fire as fun loving baseball fans celebrating after the victory. Yet all of them taken together present a clear picture of the night’s events; a riot the result of overly excited young men who did do some substantial damage to each other and the city.
“Where else but the interwebz” posted boymc from Australia, where he apparently watched “the riot” from his couch- and he is right.
Perhaps the future of media will depend on the emergence of specialized web sites reporting on the same event, that, when opened over multiple tabs give news consumers all they ask for, such as video, photos, writing, or sound bites. Old media or new media is irrelevant. Web based multi media seems to be the key.
However, many people (myself included) will wait to read about “the riot” in The San Francisco Chronicle tomorrow, and be pleased to call them the authority.