Tonight, I watched the news “break” as speculation grew that President Obama would announce the confirmed death of Osama Bin Laden. In the last hour when the country has waited with bated breath for the announcement, I have made some observations. Here are a few of them:
Where does the news break these days?
Events like this are true evidence of the way news and breaking events are shifting. In the past, the radio or television news channel would be the place to hear these events first. More recently, a news homepage like CNN would be the provider. Now, we turn to social media. How did I find out? A speculative comment by a friend on Facebook spurred my interest, and so I went to CNN to find out more. With nothing more than a frustrating “breaking news” banner, I turned to Twitter for more information. It was there I found local news sites that I follow discussing the issue. I watched as my Twitter and Facebook feed filled with the breaking news. It seemed that every Facebook friend thought they were the champions of the breaking news. And in this day and age, they very well could be. The constant stream of real-time information gives us all the power to “break the news” to our networks. But, in the end, I turned on CNN to watch the story unfold. So while our news may break in a different platform than before, we often turn back to the “traditional” places we see as legitimate and trust for the detailed information, as I did with CNN.
Crafting the narrative around the announcement
In the time we have all spent waiting for the announcement, the media have been carefully crafting a narrative around this announcement. Wolf Blitzer keeps saying “we will all remember where we were when we heard that Osama was dead.” It seems to be the job of the news media to make this announcement an event, a spectacle. Within minutes of the announcement, they began interviews with NYFD members. With patriotic images of crowds gathering outside of the White House gates, these correspondents twiddle their thumbs, repeating the news by the minute and attempt to make the event “larger than life” while we wait.
Politicizing the announcement
Now that the announcement is over, we just wait for the pundits to come crawling out of the woodwork and begin tearing the announcement apart – not necessarily in a negative way. The announcement will shortly become politicized, a chance for the Ds and Rs to twist and manipulate the words, perhaps to be used as some collateral in next year’s election. His use of “God”, his use of the pledge of allegiance, his use of words, etc….they might possibly become chess pieces in the game. The media spoke to the hours of preparation spent on this announcement…hours spent carefully crafting this message to the American people, a message more than just announcing Osama’s death. Simply announcing the death of Osama Bin Laden is not possible…this has to lay the groundwork for a political maneuver if you will. Call this cynical? Ok, but anyone who watches the cutthroat world of political strategy would agree.
So, sit back, relax, and watch the politicizing game begin. But, let me leave you with some words from the announcement that resonated with me, and that I found particularly inspiring:
“We can do these things not because of wealth and power, but because of who we are.”