digital rubbernecking or a natural interest in news?

Seems that opinion is a little divided this morning on whether tweeting from the scene of a disaster and forwarding Twitpics of plane crashes etc is either bad taste and nothing more than digital rubbernecking or is just an honest interest in seeing news stories unravel, whether about disasters or not.

I’d like to know what you think, please participate in the survey.


  1. james governor · February 25, 2009

    I don’t think trying to get to the facts is bad. what is distasteful is people thinking twitter is the story, and forgetting the fact there are bodies lieing on the ground, and parents, children and grandchildren that are never going to see members of their family again.

    i remember very clearly on 7/7 – Charline Li banging on about social media as if it were the story. at that moment she lost her humanity, at least as far as i was concerned.

    • Rebecca McMichael · February 25, 2009

      I agree…use it to learn facts about the tragedy but be human first, a commentator later.

  2. gareth jones · February 25, 2009

    I agree with James. Spreading the news and being keen to learn the facts as quickly as possible is perfectly natural. Forgetting that these stories involve *real* people shows how careful we need to be when separating ourselves from reality via a computer. It’s sad that people obviously forget this.

  3. Chris Lee · February 25, 2009

    hmmm – depends. i think it’s important from a news standpoint but the boundaries can get blurred. is it any worse than what newspeople would do? In Spain I’ve seen cameramen climb into the back of ambulances when a racing cyclist was carted off to hospital.

    I was in Madrid during the 2004 trainbombings and it was a momentous weekend. had I had Twitter would i have tweeted it? you bet.

  4. lorraine warren · February 25, 2009

    It is distasteful and prurient when people think Twitter is the story,
    I agree with that strongly – but there has been a
    lot of heartfelt sympathy too, for the crash victims today,
    and th Cameroms – so its a mixed picture.
    I guess the medium gives emotional distance for some, maybe they’ll
    grow up one day.

    • Rebecca McMichael · February 25, 2009

      Agree – important to assess the facts before commenting I always think and never truer than here. Thanks for visiting the blog and commenting.

  5. Karen Gibbons · February 25, 2009

    As technology has evolved, we have become less and less satisfied with retrospective comment on incidents – whether disasters or not. I think the currency of Twitter is its present continuous tense – What are you doing right now? It’s as close to capturing the present moment as actually being there. People are naturally curious about the things that happen to other people and this curiosity will never be sated. At least this way, the facts are kept in check and gross exaggerations or false accusations can’t be made.

  6. ourmanwhere · February 25, 2009

    I have a real issue with this – and this is it:

    I don’t mind news being broken in this way but whenever I see Tweeted pics it’s always followed by “wow isn’t Twitter great” etc etc.

    The glee is obvious.

    And people forget – there are people dead. And another thing I really hate is people tweeting “my heart goes out to”…as if the grieving relatives are scanning Twitter feeds for condolances.

    The more people try and wrap themselves in …oh isn’t it terrible. The more voyeur like and sinister they appear.

    And after the tragic death of David Cameron’s son – why are you tweeting messages to him. He won’t read them – so what is your motivation? Think about it.

    • Karen Gibbons · February 25, 2009

      So, why do you think when a tragedy occurs those involved often issue statements thanking those they know, and those they don’t, for their good wishes and kind words. It helps them to know they are ‘held’ at that point, or that their loved one was loved or known by others, or that there are other people who have been through the same thing . Also, you Tweet to others that are following you – which is a mini community that you have created with those others. These folk sit somewhere on the ‘friends spectrum’ – perhaps not as close as 3D friends that you drink with, but far enough along the spectrum to share your musings, thoughts, jokes, fears, insights and observations. That doesn’t necessarily make it for show. You’d be a stone if your heart did not stir – whether in a cathartic manner or otherwise – at death or loss.

      • ourmanwhere · February 26, 2009

        “So, why do you think when a tragedy occurs those involved often issue statements thanking those they know, and those they don’t, for their good wishes and kind words”

        Because they are public figures – that is what public figures do. But do you really think that David Cameron logs on to Twitter to catch up with condolences?

        Especially at this time?

        To go on …of course your heart stirs. It’s stating the obvious to say it stirs…which is why you don’t need to post it.

        It’s follow the leader, post-Diana, I’m more devastated that you, don’t want to be accused of missing out on the grief-fest crap.

        Okay – so you’re talking to a mini community but it’s not the same as saying “Poor David Cameron” to a mate over a pint.

        Let’s face it would you ever text your mate to say: “My heart goes out to David Cameron and his family”?

        NO way.

        So on Twitter you are doing what? Presenting your grief for others so they can see what a nice person you are.

        These Twitter followers – many of which you have probably chosen because you think they can help you in some way – you wouldn’t want to look hard hearted in front of them. Is that what you are thinking?

        Ooh hang on…people are saying how sorry they are…better get in there quick.

        If you REALLY care and if you REALLY want to get your words to David Cameron – send him a letter. Go on, make the effort.

        Tweeting your respects is arguably the way of showing your respects with the minimum effort and the maximum publicity for your grief. Sorry, but, to me, that seems almost insulting.

  7. Rebecca McMichael · February 25, 2009

    I always watch the news around big events, have always watched the news tickers, crowded round the staff TV on 9/11 and 7/7 but the difference is, the Jon Snow or Trevor MacDonald weren’t jumping up and down saying “we got the first pictures, look – you can watch it. *here* on the telly. THE TELLY” and I think that comes down to the maturity of the medium.

    • ourmanwhere · February 26, 2009

      Nicely put.

      The maturity of the medium. Yes. But this is user generated. So we are talking about the maturity of the users.

      So instead of jumping up and down people need to grow up?

  8. Pingback: California Citizen» Blog Archive » What is protocol for citizen journalism?
  9. Pingback: take your (Twi)pick « Becky McMichael’s PR Balancing Act
  10. Pingback: look at me, looking at them - Dot Comms

Leave a Reply to Karen Gibbons Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.