02/25/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Why Old Media Can't Deny New Media

One week ago, a U.S. Airways jet was allegedly attacked by a "double bird strike" and the pilot forcibly water ditched in New York's Hudson River.

You know that already, right? Maybe you heard it on the evening news or read it on CNN or the BBC. Nearly every morning newspaper carried a front page story.

But did you know the mainstream media did not break it? They may have broken the news for their networks or outlets, but they weren't first on the scene.

Heather Dueitt, Dennis Stratton, and Janis Krums scooped the news. Click their names and you'll be whisked to their Twitter streams. Scroll back to around 3:30 p.m. on January 15, 2009 and you can read their brief messages. Google them and read the rest.

Media landscape

Last September, Christopher S. Penn created this graphic and dissected old media and new media. You can see how Twitter is part of social media, a subset of new media. Your evening news and morning papers aren't quite there, lacking internet technologies, commenting, and synchronous interactivity.

While National Public Radio reported about the US Air incident, the Silicon Alley Insider beat them to the punch.

US Airways airplane sinks in river Note how Janis Krums is front and center, who was interviewed on MSNBC about 30 minutes later.

Janis' notoriety comes down to a single photograph of a sinking airplane, shot from his iPhone aboard a routine ferry from Manhattan to New Jersey as he headed home for the day.

A Twitter user since May 2008, he (like me and countless others) had previously synchronized his account with Twitpic, a third-party service that uses Twitter and enables photo sharing.

There were plenty of earlier photos of flight 1549, but nothing matched the awe and surrealism of Janis Krums' impromptu shot.

Very quickly, people began "following" Janis and sending him messages, including:

ariggio: That photo is truly incredible! And an excellent reminder of what social media can do for citizen journalism.

LizTunheim: thank you to you and your iPhone for sharing. Amazing how social media has brought us all together!

The irony behind Janis' quickly-spreading notoriety is he blogged three days ago about how he uses Twitter:

I think that Twitter is a blessing. Many writers tend to over use words that are not necessary. They feel if they use big words they will look smarter. In most cases their writing is a mess and they don't look like the geniuses that they think they are.

With Twitter, you are set in a very limited space for your content. You use it to promote a blog, or some other type of business. Twitter makes you decide what are the most important aspects of your post.

I know what he means. I tweet bits frequently, constrained to 140 characters. I usually tweet in less -- and I never assume the person I am tweeting to (if I am replying to someone) is watching in real-time.

On the other hand, take a look at this snippet of messages sent to Janis from old media outlets. I sorted the list in chronological order (with NBC being the first to tweet):

triciamckinney: can you call nbc news at 212-664-5023?

acmaurer: Can you DM me please? I work for the Chicago Tribune. Thanks, Amanda

joliemyers: Would you be willing to talk about the plane crash on NPR? If so tweet back with your contact -Jolie Myers, NPR News

newstalkradio: Is it possible to talk to you on the radio about what you see?

ProducerRachel: call our newsroom 704-329-3600 thanks

sarahkatharine: Producer for CBS in NYC. Please DM me if you get this. Would love to talk to you for Bcast news.

cbs2chicago: wow that was an amazing picture ... we'd love to talk with you (as I am sure everybody else in the world) DM us

chris8video: hey janis...nice pix....i'm a photog at a Fox Station in NC. wondering if you might could do an interview over the phone later?

nettap: WNYC would love to talk with you as well. please dm me if you'd like to chat. thanks!

10Connectsat6p: Might be willing to do a phone interview with Channel 10 in St. Peterburg. I can be reached at 727-577-8456. Carolyn

TBOcom: Janis, wriitng from, tampa. Would like to use image posted on your twitter feed on website. Please reply to @tbocom 813-2598086

joliver2: Hey Janis, I'm a reporter at the Charlotte Observer in NC... Could you call me if you get a sec.? 704-358-5886

GreeterDan: This is Daniel Terdiman from CNET News. I would like permission to use your airplane photo for a story I'm doing. Is that okay?

Every news team on Twitter did not want an interview. For instance, here's something quite different:

StephStricklen: holy cow... that's an amazing picture!!! we're with the NBC station in Portland, OR. i'll cross my fingers everyone is okay!

Maybe Steph knew about the earlier NBC tweet (and MSNBC interview) and maybe she didn't. But looking at her outbound tweets, she didn't tweet Janis anything else. That's notable.

What's also notable is few of the old media broadcasts or stories referenced Twitter, despite several of them using Janis' photo in their galleries. Is this because they don't want to admit someone else broke the news?

On bloggers not being journalists, Jeff Cutler opines:

...the reality is that on election night, the majority of the country got its news from four outlets and then re-reported the news of the election. When the major outlets are dead, is Billy the blogger going to have the resources and the reach to inform the entire country about election results?

I don't know the answer but Billy the blogger (and Tony the twitterer) is in the running and if old media doesn't embrace new media and actively use it, the outlets will die sooner than hoped.

If you work in media or communications, I encourage you to join Sarah Evans and hundreds of Twitter users every Monday night for #journchat. Details and more information at or by tweeting Sarah.