Events of 2009 and the Role of Online Media

Two days to go for new year's! I am not much of a TV or newspaper person and yet I have seen that I know quite a bit about whats happening around the world mainly due to Twitter and Facebook! Through 2009 starting from the emergency landing of a plane in Hudson river to Iran elections to MJ's death, the online media has become a serious contender for news dissemination.

Here I have combined CNN's key events of 2009 and the major hashtags on Twitter in 2009 to take a look at the major events of the past year and the role that social media has played as media!

Jan 15th: An US airplane with 155 passengers crash lands on Hudson river in New York.
All passengers were rescued alive. A watcher on a ferry took a photo and immediately uploaded it to Twitter through his iPhone. The news went viral. This was the first coverage of the event, later traditional media took it up.
Jan 20th: Obama is sworn in as the first African-American president of America.
While millions of people watched it live at the venue, a lot more watched it on You tube where it was covered live too. In fact Obama's Facebook page has 7,045,669 members and Twitter page has over 2,000,000 followers.

Apr 8th: Agitation in a small country called Moldova.
The youth used Twitter as a broadcasting service. #pman was the tag they used standing for "Piata Marii Adunari Nationale" which was the name of a square in the capital city, where they planned to rally. It was trending for quite sometime.

Jun 11th: Swine Flu pandemic declared by World Health Organization.
Constantly #H1N1 and swine flue were trending on Twitter. Tips to avoid getting infected and how to recognize the symptoms were blogged. However it also led to a spread of unnecessary panic amongst web users.

Jun 13th: Iran Elections Crisis.
#iranelections was trending on Twitter, containing gruesome photos, videos about the situation in Iran. Yet again the traditional media including CNN and BBC were slow at covering the event. You tube videos were the way that the citizens in Iran showed the people what the situation was like.

Jun 25th: Micheal Jackson - King of Pop dies!
The news was first broadcast via a local news website later picked by leading sites. There were two lessons learnt about the online media with this event:

  1. The online media like Twitter, Wikipedia, Google were not able to handle the huge demand for this news. Read more here.
  2. Gossip: There were rumors about other celebrities who died along with MJ. These rumours were proved false soon enough. However it becomes clear that the ' false rumours' and 'panicking people' is something that is true online as much as it is offline. Read more.
Sept 9th: Obama brings in Health policy reforms in US.
Though this does not really concern me being in India I was aware of what was happening due to Facebook videos that were being passed around.

Oct 9th: Obama wins Nobel Prize.
Again the topic was trending on Twitter. Many people asked whether it was deserved and wasn't it too soon to be awarding Obama this prize?

All in all I think we should see much more usage of social media for brands, companies and also as a news medium.

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