Where were you when ... ?


June 26, 2009 at 1:26 a.m.
Updated June 27, 2009 at 1:27 a.m.

Remember the days when you first heard about major news events on the radio or TV?

The times, they are a changing. This week, the deaths of celebrities (Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson), were prominent items on news Web sites and social media networks.

I first heard about the death of Ed McMahon and Farrah Fawcett through Twitter, which is also where I first read about Michael Jackson being rushed to an L.A. hospital.

The initial reports of Jackson's transport to the hospital and death, first announced by the celebrity Web site TMZ.com, soon led to a flurry of tweets, posts and updates online.

The influx of tweets was so huge, it caused Twitter to crash and temporarily disable search results, saved searches and trend topics.

According to Cnet.com, a representative from Google confirmed that between 2:40 p.m. PDT and 3:15 p.m. PDT on Thursday some Google News users experienced difficulty accessing search results for queries related to Michael Jackson.

The first news organization to confirm Jackson's death, the L.A. Times, also suffered outages and reported 2.3 million page views in one hour, more traffic than during any single hour last Nov. 5, the site's highest-traffic day.

All of this information made me think about the stories I'd heard about where people were when they first heard about major news events.

I remember my parents telling me how they were in school when teachers informed them about the death of JFK, back when a tweet was known only as a noise made by a bird.

A friend remembered coming home and turning on the TV, only to find out about the death of John Lennon.

I asked some of the people I follow on Twitter how they received breaking news items in the past. I heard from @nel1jack who tweeted "I was outside washing a show steer when the news broke on the radio about Elvis Presley. They interrupted a song and everything."

Another response from Twitter I received was from @thesusanturpin who said, "I was at school when I heard that Selena died."

The way we receive news updates today, whether it be via a tweet, a news site, or status update on Facebook, is immediate, not always accurate, but it is what it is.

What will your answer be to the question, "Where were you when (insert significant event here) happened?"

CJ Castillo is the interactivity editor for the Victoria Advocate. You can follow her on Twitter (@cjcastillo) or contact her at cjcastillo@vicad.com or sent care of Victoria Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.



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