We Media’s Witnesses: Everything you thought you knew about the news has changed.

The 800 reporters from the world’s news organizations who descended upon Blacksburg, Va., on April 16, 2007, to cover the shootings of students at Virginia Tech quickly discovered an inconvenient truth. Though remote, Blacksburg was hardly isolated. Students, educators and citizens reported the horrific events first-hand through long-established digital and social networks. The news reached the outside world well before the television crews found their way to the Blue Ridge.The story unfolded  on the Internet and on cell-phones, the personal and preferred means of communication of an always-on generation. The story was in their hands.

Journalists have always been reliant upon the first witnesses to news. What has changed is that the first witnesses are not only the first reporters, but also the first immediate distributors of the news that informs a large part of a connected society.  The way they create, share and distribute news through their personal media connections and social networks changes the balance of knowing, learning and experiencing the news.

In the story of Blacksburg iFOCOS identifies a dozen sweeping changes to how individuals and society as a whole experience media.

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