Yesterday, Chesley B. Sullenberger III, 57, saved 155 passengers as he crash-landed US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River between New York and New Jersey. In the midst of panic after his engines ingested a flock of waterfowl, and with no subsequent engine power, Sullenberger made the prescient choice to ditch in the water instead of hoping to glide to Teterboro airport in New Jersey.
Here is the flight path of Sullenberger’s Airbus A320 after taking off from La Guardia airport and crashing in the Hudson River six minutes later:
One of the most fascinating aspects of the crash of US Airways Flight 1549 was the role of Janis Krums — a Floridian who happened to be on a New York on a water ferry dispatched to make an emergency rescue in the river — as he took the first image of the crash with his iPhone and immediately uploaded the text event of the crash to Twitter while simultaneously linking the image to Twitpic:
Janis Krums’ prescience-of-mind to preserve the event of the crash was remarkable, and his quick thinking became the iconic semiotic of the day for history:
Using an iPhone, Twitter and Twitpic, you are able to instantly share text and upload image with the world. The process is seamless. There is a certain quickness to the process that beats anything the traditional media can provide.
What disturbs me about the coverage of Janis’ recording of the crash is the mainstream media’s need to label him a “Citizen Journalist” — as if he isn’t a “real” journalist like them because he didn’t first attend acting school or a modeling program to earn his “journalism” job reading a teleprompter — it is that sort of narrow thinking that is rightfully killing traditional media as they insist on drawing a bright line between them and us: The know-it-all establishment and the know-nothing-but-lucky ordinary citizen.
Media like Twitter — I refuse to call Twitter a “Social Network” now because that’s just as insulting a label as “Citizen Journalist” — promise a future participation where all of us become a funnel for breaking news the world over for each other.
Can we trust the innocent interest of each of us to record and share the events of the day without wondering who is making money on the way the “news” is being skewed and “reported” on the back end in order to maintain the facade of an unbiased media elite?
We need more heroes like Chesley B. Sullenberger III and Janis Krums — because they were both quick-witted enough to save the day and preserve the moment — one required by work ethic, the other called by moral duty — and their example is one for the Ages that should inspire the rest of us as we blindly cling to the higher hope of always being better than our expectation while praying to never fall any farther into the depths that perpetually tempt sloth and disinterest.