The death of Bin Laden and the Whiteness of the Whale

“What the white whale was to Ahab, has been hinted; what, at times, he was to me, as yet remains unsaid”

This morning’s Metro announces “closure” with a picture of the American president hugging a 9/11 widow. Closure. Barack Obama lays a wreath on the site of the World Trade Centre. CNN’s terrorism analyst, Peter Bergen, declares an end to the War on Terrorism. Closure. Not ‘mission accomplished’. America’s softly-spoken nemesis is buried quietly at sea. Ten years of turmoil, hurt, blood, dreams and tears end with a whimper, not a bang. Closure, remember?

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Twitter and the future of journalism

Those who awoke yesterday to read of Osama bin Laden’s death splashed across every news outlet could have been in some way better served by following Sohaib Athar (@ReallyVirtual) on Twitter who became, in his own virtual words, “the guy who liveblogged the Osama raid without knowing it”, shown above.

These tweets were an honest description, free from spin and not aimed at achieving fame or writing Pulitzer-winning pieces (he didn’t realise what the attack was about until later).

Even though unwitting, his tweets surpassed much of the outpouring of on-scene journalistic accounts that regularly invade our consciousness.

Is Twitter (and other social media) breaking the mass media’s dominance on world issues and if so, what is the future of journalism? Will the result be a surge of Twitter reporting by ordinary people? And will the media attempt a catch-up by producing even more mind-numbing examples of ‘churnalism’ or will it insted seek a higher quality of reporting?

Of course. all these questions could become irrelevant if Professor Timothy Wu’s arguments about corporate giants taking over the internet and hegemonising it come to pass.

A mind once stretched by a new

idea never regains its original

dimensions


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