It'll be 13 years this summer that I've worked professionally in the newsroom where I'm now employed, and I still don't know whether I love or dread the buzz that happens when news, real news, happens in our city.
On Thursday around 10 a.m., just as I was sitting down at my desk, we started seeing the first Tweets from people who said they saw a plane fly into a northwest Austin building and then we were hearing about smoke and fire.
Years ago, when I worked in Technopolis or the business section, I wouldn't have been directly involved, but now with Twitter and Facebook, a lot of the people I connect with were potential eyewitnesses. Now part of my job is to filter through these Tweets (along with our social media editor and others on the online and news staffs), knowing that there will probably be a story for me to write about the online reaction to a major event.
My story from Friday's paper was about the way that social media helped gather news, spread rumors and verify information (for us and for other local and national media). Then, the next day, we saw several Web sites related to the plane crash that seemed to be profiting from the tragedy by embedding ads in a copy of the Joe Stack manifesto. My story from Saturday's paper was about that and a video game that popped up the same day as the crash, a simple, but morally queasy Flash-based Web game.
Somewhere alone the line I got on the radar of the Alex Jones Web site Infowars and they wrote a blog entry about my story. The comments make for some incredibly entertaining reading.
Then, Alex Jones himself mentioned me (and mangled my last name; I thought he was a radio guy) on his Friday broadcast. My inbox has been hit with several incredibly enlightening messages that are TOTALLY NOT CONSPIRACY THEORIES! NOT AT ALL!
I mean, check this one out:
"How about this as a theory; The guy was murdered, his house set ablaze, his body placed in that plane, and the plane was remote controlled into the IRS building."
Dude, that makes complete sense. I wouldn't even feel right investigating it because it's so obvious.
But "Conspiracy theory?" I'm ashamed I ever even used those words. Clearly, you guys have thought this through.