Business PR

Remembering 9/11….& a lesson in responsible communication

Posted by Deborah | September 11th, 2014 | No responses

It’s one of those moments etched in our memories for eternity.

You remember where you were when you heard the news, your horror at the tv images, and that sickening feeling in the pit of your stomach as if this was surely the stuff of a blockbuster film.

Yes, we’re 13 years on from 9/11 and most of us can remember the drama and news content unveiling as clearly as if it were yesterday, As a journalist at the time, I guess I was among those with even more of an acute appetite for what was happening moment by moment, and for articulating how this was going to change the world.

That 9/11 has indeed changed the world is nothing that hadn’t been discussed over and over by zillions of commentators.

But, the issue which raises its head for me each time I reflect on an anniversary of this magnitude, is the seismic change in delivery of news and information since that moment first occurred.

Take me sat in a newspaper newsroom back then, in September 2001.

Yes, we had a chunky old tv screen over our desks. Most reporters had mobile phones about their person, and we had a pretty comfortable acceptance of the internet as an increasingly important resource from which to extract information for our stories.

But that was a world apart from today’s unstoppable instantaneous approach to media and the relay of news, comment and pictures.

Where was the twitterfeed of ‘on the spot’ commentary from morning commuters in the heart of NYC that morning?

Where was the updated Facebook feed from friends reaching out to those in their contacts book who may want confirmation of their whereabouts?

Where was the LinkedIn corporate update from businesses within a stone’s throw of the drama; or the Instagram images posted by observers, or the vine and YouTube videos capturing the emotion and the panic as it unfurled?

Of course, we were without this deluge of media activity because so much of today’s ‘social’ technology was yet to come.

Can you imagine the difference in news transmission and consumption (peer to peer as much as via official news organisations) if the same terrifying events were to happen today?

Exactly. That 13 years elapsed time would paint an entirely different landscape of information sharing.

There’s no doubting that we can all see the huge positives of the progression and of the enhanced ability to communicate.

But are there some downsides, about which we might want to exercise some cautious sensitivity as we in PR and journalism continue to play our part in relaying stories?

Well yes.

It brings to mind for me the reaction on social media feeds more recently when the Boston Marathon bombings took place.

Naturally, we all observed the tweets as news came flooding through – but eventually, one commentator in social media space pleaded:

“Please guys, consider what you’re tweeting. Some of these images are horrific and does any relative want to learn what’s happened to their loved one in quite this way”.

There’s certainly a salient message in this.

Perhaps, as we reflect today, we might all remember that technology and interactivity is creating journalists of us all…not just those sat in a newsroom.

With a mere touch of a button, we can impact the lives of so many through our ill considered or slightly too impulsive tweet, text, image, or upload.

The change is indeed impressive and ever more exciting, but it comes with the need for responsibility from us all.

Lest we forget!


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