Tragedy on Twitter

As the Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles and the Far Eastern University Tamaraws were dueling each other on the basketball court, three other people were dueling with death.

One of them was DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo.

I was too tired to watch the game on TV so I was cooped in my room, relaxing, while my tablet was on Twitter. Tweets streamed in about the game. But there were a whole lot of Jesse Robredo tweets. This caught my attention. A plane crashed and a high-ranking government official was onboard.

Soon, my attention was taken off the game, and more on updates about Jesse Robredo. The top tweets I followed were from Karen Davila, Rappler, ANC, and Inquirer.

*****

I watched the ANC news immediately after reading these tweets. They reported mostly the same contents as they were tweeting. I understood the similarity because the event was fresh.

However, days later, once events started developing, lines started solidifying between traditional media and social media.

On Twitter, everything about the search and rescue operations were broadcast. I always saw news outlets quoting DOTC secretary Mar Roxas. I always read updates informing the public of every little detail.

On the other hand, television, radio reports, and newspaper articles cannot afford to do this. Because of limited airtime and space, they can only air the most important details of the event. In short, they are more selective. Social media allows for less selectivity.

Not to state the obvious, but social media delivers news quicker. This divide is especially evident when juxtaposing social media with newspapers. Because it takes more time to produce newspapers than to tweet, there was a possibility that Twitter updates overtake those of print media. Luckily, no developments happened at night when deadlines have already passed.

*****

It was indeed a tragic event in our history. Social media kept its users very much on-the-loop with what was going on in Masbate. With every day that passed, netizens made their sadnesses felt very quickly, and the only place to air these was online.

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