Social sourcing during a tornado

Headlines this morning feature news about the tornadoes that swept across north-central Illinois last night. We live in Antioch, 50 miles northeast of Rochelle, where severe thunderstorms turned into a dangerous tornado. Because of our close proximity, we heard sirens going off and quickly took cover in the basement.

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Luckily, the power stayed on and I was able to tune in to updates online. My gut reaction was to pull up Twitter for real-time updates on where the tornado was headed. Within seconds, I was able to see bystander photos of the twister (before they were broadcasted on television), read who else was hearing sirens and decide whether or not to hide out in the basement for the rest of the night.

While I appreciate Tom Skilling’s soothing meteorological voice, he was sitting in the middle of downtown Chicago using radar to tell people what was happening. Twitter lets me find first-hand accounts. I feel a better sense of control in a situation where I’m the provider of my own news. Technology is amazing. If I learned anything in grad school, it’s how to source news on social.

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