May 1, 2011

(5.09.2011 -- I've updated this post to include
some of the good reads I've found
since the news of Bin Laden's death
broke last week)

We just finished watching our late night television shows. And ate them up. The Daily Show tonight was a classic.

After all, how crazy -- and unbelievable -- have these 24 hours been?!

Up until about 9:51 p.m. yesterday, it had been another Sunday. We went to church and said goodbye to Kates' parents in the morning. Lunch. Kates took a nap. I played with Phoebe. Paid bills. Did laundry. Dinner ...

I was frustrated that it was past 9 by the time I could indulge in Sunday Night Baseball. At around 9:30, I told Kates I was ready for bed but instead got comfortable on the couch and fired up my laptop.

Good thing we didn't go to bed.

A news alert popped on my screen.

U.S. has the body of Osama bin Laden, sources say

I gasped and shared the headline with Kates. In moments, more alerts started popping up. I immediately reached for the TV remote and turned to CNN. Kates reached for her phone and dialed her parents, who had returned to The Farm and wouldn't have known. ...

Twitter and Facebook. Absolutely. Lit. Up. ... My friend Sarah in Chicago posted to her Facebook, simply, "Wow." Those of us watching a computer, smartphone or television knew exactly what she was talking about. Many, many more tweets and status updates like hers quickly followed.

My favorite tweet of the night as the world waited for President Obama to adress the nation:

At this rate U.S. President Obama
may come on and just say
"Check Twitter."

A couple others from some of my journalism colleagues ...

Ooh. Just got goosebumps hearing the U-S-A chants
bleeding over the NYM-PHI game on . Imagine if the game
was being played in NY?

This is amazing, but newspapers
everywhere are on deadline.
You can bet A sections
all over America are on hold.

As the updates continued to flow and we started seeing images of people gathering in city streets, cheering and chanting U-S-A in front of the White House -- and getting reports of people shooting fireworks in celebration -- it was apparent very quickly that the night would be one none of us will forget. Years from now we'll be asking the question, "Where were you when ... "

As the social media chatter continued, another thing struck me: How far our communication has come in the 10 years since 9/11. ... Think about it: On that day most of us were crowded around television sets to get the latest information from newscasts. There were no iPhones or smartphones to help you get breaking news mobily. And there was no Facebook or Twitter to share the news when you got it. The communication was primarily one-way. And here we were now, a mere 10 years later, learning --and sharing -- the latest details about the developing story via our vast internet networks long before the television media interuptted our regularly scheduled programming. Mind-blowing.

Good reads regarding the use of social media ...
a Sohaib Athar’s Tweets from the attack on Osama bin Laden
a Paste has a great post with some of the best Tweets of the night.
a So how did you hear about Bin Laden’s death?
a Twitter breaks record as news of bin Laden’s death spreads
a Turning to Social Networks for News... 3,440 per second from 10:45 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Eastern time!
aFirst bin Laden reports came in tweets, as media scrambled for confirmation
a Martin Luther King, Jr. misquoted after Osama bin Laden killed... I found this amusing because I saw several status updates and tweets with this quote. I'm not a fan of the practice.
aObama’s TV Audience Was His Largest
a How 4 people & their social network turned an unwitting witness to bin Laden’s death into a citizen journalist
I had another thought, now having firsthand knowledge of the speech-writing process and the thought that goes into finding just the right words. "Can you imagine the conversations that were going on in that room, crossing out words and rewriting phrases?" I told a communication colleague this morning.

Eventually we turned over to NBC's coverage. And when President Obama himself delivered the news, I got chills. To hear him say the words out loud ...
"Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of Al Qaeda, and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children ... "

As the news settled, I got back to my Sunday Night Baseball. The Mets and Phillies were now tied at 1-1 in the 12th inning. At 11:30 p.m. I went to bed.

More thoughts ...

Here's a good read from a Christian perspective.

On releasing the photos ...
As a media relations professional with a journalism background, I understand both sides of the debate and the philosphy that the Bin Laden photos represent "the very definition of news." But I respect and commend President Obama for taking a firm stance, saying “We don’t trot this stuff out as trophies — that’s not who we are.’’
a The Boston Globe published an interesting editorial pushing for the release of the photos.
a Eugene Robinson also had an interesting view in favor of releasing the photos.
a And Now, the Search for the bin Laden Death Photo

How it all went down ...
I find it -- the years of intelligence gathering that started with finding Bin Laden's courier, and the stealth descent on the compound -- absolutely fascinating. The New York Times has an excellent graphic and timeline. Also ...
a Bin Laden discovered ‘hiding in plain sight’
a Detective Work on Courier Led to Breakthrough on Bin Laden
a Behind the Hunt for Bin Laden
a In Long Pursuit of Bin Laden, the ’07 Raid, and Frustration
a Death of Osama bin Laden: Phone call pointed U.S. to compound — and to ‘the pacer’
a CIA spied on bin Laden from safe house
a The Force of the Deed

The infamous Situation Room photo ...
I started following the White House Flickr feed shortly after President Obama was elected ... Fascinating.
a White House photo viewed as often as it is parodied
a Breaking down the Situation Room -- A fascinating tour of the room, and the photo, from the Washington Post.

Other good reads ...
a Newspaper front pages capture elation, relief that Osama bin Laden was killeda The Most Wanted Face of Terrorism
a After Killing of Bin Laden, Official Reaction Pours In
a Bin Laden’s death: a moment of unity
a 13 Strangest Ways People Found Out Bin Laden Died
a The Long-Awaited News
a Osama bin Laden changed us in ways minute, monumental
a Bin Laden’s Secret Life in a Diminished World
a Adm. William McRaven: The terrorist hunter on whose shoulders Osama bin Laden raid rested

Stories related to 9/11 ...
a Resilient New York takes grim satisfaction in bin Laden’s death
a The Interrupted Reading: The Kids with George W. Bush on 9/11
aConstructing a Story, With 2,982 Names

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