By now the USF community knows most of the details about the tragic accident on Turk and Chabot last Thursday. Word spread among students before anything was found in print or heard on the news. I heard about it in my 5:30 communications law a policy class where one of my classmates said that a woman died and she was the wife of the school of education. I thought most of what I was hearing was gossip and I’d get the real story the next day in the paper.
Interestingly enough, what I heard in class was accurate. I have grown so accustomed to dismissing word of mouth information as gossip until I can check the facts that I did not even think that maybe someone in the USF student body had been out there at the site of the accident recording these facts. In fact, Huner Patterson of the Foghorn broke the story in his blog, "The Bicycle Diaries," two hours before the SF Chronicle. The picture below was taken by Patterson and gives me a very vivid idea of what the scene must have looked like.
It's important to realize that the technologies we have at our disposal are important and necessary tools, not only in journalism, but in recording important events. A USF student was able to hop over to the scene of the accident with a camera and tape recorder to chronicle the facts before any professionals. The importance of this act is so critical in today’s journalism. I learned of the details of the accident through our blog, USFBlogtastic, on Thursday night from the postings of Sam and Professor Silver. I then went to the news online to verify what had happened. The fact that we can not only gather information the instant it happens but post it to blogs so it can be shared is a whole new way of expanding the use of our technologies.
Crowd sourcing, once again, is receiving information from the crowd, and is actually a much smarter way to handle spreading the news. Patterson's story had two hours on the Chronicle's story, just think how much more information we can receive over time if each person involved in an event or tradgedy catalogued thier experiences through a blog or pictures and posted them in real time. We can begin to live through these experiences as they're happening.
Word of mouth can lose the reputation of being mindless gossip because everyone is now an essential part in spreading the news.