Chris Brogan earlier this month raised the question: “How have (or how can) you use social media tools in real time to capture the stories around us, in whatever form you want?”
The example Brogan used was being at a Panasonic press conference at a larger convention and sending out dispatches via Twitter (“live-tweeting”) about the press event in real time (while other journalists took notes on paper to write their stories later). Brogan noted that not only did bloggers/tweeters scoop the notepad journalists but that they started a conversation.
A superb recent example is the Hudson River plane-crash photo that Janis Krums (who is apparently a guy) of Sarasota, FL, took on his cell phone (iPhone to be precise) and posted to Twitter more or less in real time last week.
Tomorrow’s inauguration provides a great opportunity to tell stories in real time. I’ll be doing close to that — periodically blogging my impressions of this momentous day.
One commenter to Brogan’s piece, “Zoe,” noted that she’d heard a podcast with Clay Shirker, who “pointed out that ‘Is this journalism?’ is not the question — the question is whether or not we are getting information to the people. I think this distinction allows us to get past superficial distinctions, and embrace things like real-time storytelling.”
A ton of journalism will be happening tomorrow. But I suspect there will be even more real-time storytelling. One is not better than the other, but real-time storytelling can certainly be more personal and immediate.
(I should add here that technology may fail to support all the live storytelling; Matt Richtel reported in today’s New York Times that: “The cellphone industry has a plea for the throngs descending on the nation’s capital for the presidential inauguration: go easy on the mobile communications. Cellphone companies have added temporary antennas in Washington but expect to be overwhelmed anyway.”)
Another commenter said that this kind of real-time news dissemination is not storytelling because “storytelling connotes longer narratives.” I disagree. If you look at, for example, the six-word memoirs at SMITH Magazine, a 140-character Tweet seems like War and Peace. (OK, maybe comparing words to characters is like apples to oranges, but the point is, you can say a lot in 140 characters.)