Social Media Wins at Baltimore Train Derailment & Explosion Coverage

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By now, you’ve presumably heard — yesterday afternoon, a garbage truck collided with a cargo train near White Marsh yesterday afternoon, causing a dramatic derailment, sending a giant plume of smoke into the air, and requiring the efforts of “more than 60 pieces of fire apparatus,” according to the Baltimore Police Department. Thankfully, no one was killed (though the truck driver is in serious condition at Maryland Shock Trauma). What struck me about this particular accident, though, was how much social media has changed our relationship with breaking news.

Case in point:  Kevin Lindemann, who was at work at a warehouse nearby when the explosion shook the building. Lindemann was quick enough to shoot a quick camera phone shot of the train fire as he fled; that image circulated widely yesterday, and led to an interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN.

This video of a bunch of people checking out the fire — before being startled by an explosion — has the sort of immediacy (and shaky camera work) that you don’t usually get from official news reports:

The creator of this reaction video (warning:  profanity!) became an instant online sensation:

Before the day was over, there was already a Baltimore Club remix of his reaction.

Some of the most dramatic pictures were taken by nearby folks with handy cameraphones:


(See more photos and reactions over at Buzzfeed.) Despite much media hand-wringing about whether Twitter is the future of breaking news, most people’s post-explosion tweets were less informative and more “WTF?!” Twitter was invaluable, though, in helping organizations and reporters get news out to a wide public, quickly.

Ultimately, I have to echo the sentiment of this guy — we’ve had enough drama for one week, thank you very much.

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