Not only was Austin Morton the youngest of the four panelists, but as a Virginia Tech student impacted by the shooting, she had unique perspective of the way the media covered it.
“An enormous amount of information is available to you. . .and it gets out of hand at times. I encourage you, at this time when there's more and more information at our fingertips, keep yourself in check. Keep your humanity in check," said Morton.
The whole idea of this panel was to discuss the importance and impact that the online community had on a tragedy such as Virginia Tech. Joining Morton on the panel were: Bill Mitchell, Poynter Online, Tom Mallory, The San Diego Union, and Meg Smith, The Washington Post.
Smith, was an interesting speaker to listen to, because her method of covering the Virginia Tech tragedy was to find as many people as possible through Facebook and MySpace. She joined communities of Virginia Tech and found students and friends of Virginia Tech on Facebook and MySpace. This was considered “research,” but it helped immensely in finding people. Mallory made a very good point, “MySpace and Facebook are a great source of information.”
I'm amazed at this, because really, who would have thought that these social networks would have become such a powerful tool?
Within hours of the shooting, friends and family were trying to connect with each other, and trying to find one another through these networks. It's amazing that a social network like Facebook became such a useful tool during the tragedy. To many Facebook and YouTube are the new vitural library.
Throughout this workshop I couldn't help but think, Who knew? Who would have thought that these tools would be so useful for journalists. I have recently used them to find sources.
As a Ryerson student in the online journalism program, I'm well aware that we are in a technological revolution. As students, we have a wealth of information at our fingertips, and those in the industry are reporting in a way that journalists of the past never did.
-- Lori Harito