Real-Time Storytelling: A Real Story

When ContextWeb SVP Jay Sears boarded American Airlines Flight 24, he didn’t know he’d become part  of a national news story – thanks to Twitter.

Sears, who was speaking at Connected Marketing Week in San Francisco, got on the airplane 7 a.m. Thursday at SFO to head home to Rye, NY.

Just before the plane took off for JFK International Airport, someone phoned in a hijacking threat, according to media reports. The flight was grounded and passengers remained on the plane for at least three hours while police investigated.

Inside the plane, Sears (@jaysears) and Campbell McKellar (@cmckella), tweeted about what they saw happening. “AA 24 SFO moving on tarmac at edge of airport police around not normal,” Sears wrote. “AA 24 SFO security threat say we will de-plane.”

CNN contacted Sears for a telephone interview that was aired live on the cable news network. And Rick Sanchez, CNN newscaster, frequently pointed out during his report that viewers could “see the news unfold on CNN with tweets.

Media companies like CNN are increasingly evaluating how user-generated content can complement their traditional news gathering organizations without turning off audiences and advertisers alike.

Coincidentally, Dermot Waters, senior director of product development, CNN.com, was also speaking at Connected Marketing Week. During a panel, “Real-Time Storytelling,” Waters explained how the cable news network has embraced so-called citizen or “participatory” journalism. When asked whether a citizen blogger is a journalist, Waters answered: “If you are writing content and are a trusted source, we embrace all media, regardless of whether you are on a couch or in a 4,000-person operation.”

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