Local resident Chad Brown had no idea what was about to happen as he sat poolside at a friend’s dorm on the UCLA campus Thursday afternoon. A few blocks away at UCLA Medical Center, pop icon Michael Jackson was being rushed to the ER with cardiac arrest. “I was lounging by the pool when I […]
Local resident Chad Brown had no idea what was about to happen as he sat poolside at a friend’s dorm on the UCLA campus Thursday afternoon. A few blocks away at UCLA Medical Center, pop icon Michael Jackson was being rushed to the ER with cardiac arrest. “I was lounging by the pool when I noticed four or five helicopters hovering above,” Brown said.
“After checking the Internet, I realized what had happened, and immediately headed down to the hospital.”
Brown, 23, was in Los Angeles for the week for business. He arrived on the scene before most of the mainstream media because of his proximity. “Because I was one of the first ones there, I was about as close to the emergency room entrance as any non-official hospital personnel could be.”
“I can count 11 helicopters in the vicinity of the hospital. MJ’s extended family being interviewed saying, ‘Don’t give up hope yet,” Brown wrote in one of his tweets before it was known whether or not if Jackson had passed away.
“A nurse who exited the hospital was chased down and detained by police. Holy cow,” read another, describing a nurse who was caught after taking a photo of Jackson’s body and attempting to flee the scene.
As word of Jackson’s hospitalization and, at that point, rumors of his death, spread around the globe on Twitter and other social media networks, some of the major news organizations turned to those on the street outside the hospital to be their eyes and ears.
Brown’s updates caught the attention of the BBC, who sent him a message asking for a phone interview. “I did an initial interview with one BBC station around 5:00 p.m. PST, and ended up doing interviews for four other stations through the day, evening and night,” Brown explained.
Brown described the chaotic scene outside the hospital on BBC Radio’s “5 Live” program. (Listen to Chad Brown’s BBC Radio interview here – 2:23)
While Brown might have just been in the right place at the right time, it doesn’t take an expert to recognize that social media has changed the way news is both reported and consumed, and coverage of the death of Michael Jackson is a striking example of those changes.
“The entire reason I “live-tweeted” the event had nothing to do with me being a Michael Jackson superfan; I simply wanted to prove once again that Twitter and other social media outlets have more power than most realize at this point,” Brown said of his impromptu reporting from the event.
Brown points out that not only do social media outlets spread breaking news faster than traditional media like CNN, but it also empowers the consumer to participate and create the news.
“I believe social media has continued the trend of putting the power in the peoples’ hands, allowing us to be just as powerful, if not more so, than traditional media. And when you sit back and think about that, it’s a little overwhelming.”