[Whole New Media] Within a couple of hours after a West High School student died yesterday in a horrendous car wreck in Ogden, most every student knew who she was.
For the record, the victim is 17-year-old Alyssa Lopez. She was a junior and a cheerleader. Several other teens were involved; three were injured.
Most news outlets were keeping Lopez' identity quiet last night. The Salt Lake Tribune didn't name Lopez until 2:22 p.m. today--a full 24 hours afterward. The Deseret Morning News identified her online at 1:02 p.m. KSL TV and radio moved slightly quicker, with an I.D. at noon.
With the aid of frantic text messaging and online chat yesterday, the West High student population was in the know long before the mainstream media decided they should know. The usual explanation given at news outlets for withholding such information is "next of kin must be notified." That's respectful, and tradition. But no doubt the girl's family knew shortly after the accident.
The story behind this story is fascinating. Traditional media have always played the authority figure on choosing when to run a story, or whether to wait or to dribble out information in bits to the public. Editors and station managers have always worked from the assumption that "it's news when we say it's news."
Uh, not so much. Any student with a cell phone yesterday (including those who attend other schools) knew everything they wanted to know about this story. And almost 24 hours before the mainstream media chose to flesh it out.
It's sort of like those Comcast advertising turtles--the Slowskys. And all these c-r-r-r-a-z-y kids are the high-speed hares. (Holly Mullen)