Content Marketing Blog

Osama Bin Laden’s death a win for old media?

In the hours before Barack Obama made the official announcement yesterday that a US special forces team had found and killed Osama Bin Laden, the story was already doing the rounds on Twitter.

A generation ago, we would all have had to wait for the official word before we knew that the world's most wanted man was dead.

In the age of Twitter, Facebook and Google that's no longer the case. As soon as the White House summoned journalists for a special press conference, rumours that Bin Laden had been killed started appearing on Twitter and elsewhere.

After the press conference, Twitter activity exploded with record levels of posts, as members exchanged views and links. People also flocked to Google for more details of what had happened, with Bin Laden terms rocketing to the top of the search trends.

All this social media buzz has some commentators talking about another nail in the coffin of traditional media. With Twitter, Facebook and personal blogs, the citizen journalist rules.

But old media was still at the heart of this story. Keith Urbahn, chief of staff to former US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld, was widely credited with leaking the story when he tweeted: "So I'm told by a reputable person they have killed Osama Bin Laden. Hot Damn."

Later though he poured cold water on the idea that this was a new media event, tweeting: "As much as I believe in rise of 'citizen journalism', blogs, twitter etc supplanting traditional media, my tweet isn't great evidence of it."

Urbahn revealed that the source of his story was in fact a TV news producer.

Old media stalwarts were also getting lots of retweeting action after President Obama's statement and if you look at Google searches for "Bin Laden", it's breaking stories from established news providers like the BBC and CNN that are being pulled into the universal results.

Twitter, Facebook and the blogging community are the new communication channels, but the meat of big, global stories like this is often still provided by big media brands.