Talk of the town? More like talk of the nation: When Local News Goes National

As we all know, the phrase “gunman on campus,” is nothing to take lightly.  Since the 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech, colleges across the country have made it a priority to ensure the safety of their campus.

UNC Wilmington students were alerted late last night of a gunman on campus, fleeing from the nearby Hardees. The University continued to update students through email, phone calls and text messages in order to ensure all students were aware of the situation and safe.
It seems as though UNCW took all the proper precautions; what they didn’t take into consideration was how the students were going to react to it. Within a matter of no time, students with Facebook and Twitter accounts were posting: “everyone on campus be safe!” or writing terms of endearment on loved one’s walls. According to Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody, the ability of people to share, cooperate, and act together is being improved dramatically by our social tools.With access to these social networking sites, students were able to publicly announce that there was a gunman on campus, which instigated a major concern.  News of the gunman on UNCW’s campus even reached popular media outlets, such as the New York Times and CBS.

Using these social networking sites has united people all over the country.  Looking again at Shirky’s book, he exclaims, “a story can go from local to global in a heartbeat.” Without today’s social media sites, many news outlets would not have heard about the gunman. From an IMC perspective, we must look at how powerful these sites are and use them with much caution.

-Stephanie Bakolia, Claire Outlaw, David Glaubach