News at the Speed of Tech

By Tim Moran  |  Posted Friday, September 28, 2012 13:30 PM

By Tim Moran

I am sitting in a hotel room in Provo, Utah—the Springhill Suites, which is just around the corner from the Lavell Edwards Stadium on the BYU (Brigham Young University) campus—searching the Web for something interesting for my blog this week. I have the TV on for company. After watching the end of the Ravens-Browns game, I clicked around and found the local news on KUTV, Channel 2, in Salt Lake City.

At first, I didn't pay much attention, since the local news here is often even more boring than the boring local news in New York. But the broadcast soon caught my interest, in that there appears to be—right now, as I write—a man on Main St. in downtown Salt Lake City who claims to have a bomb in a bag and may blow himself up.

The wild thing is that this is happening right outside the studios of KUTV news, so it's happening while they are on the air. In fact, it is so close that the SWAT officers ordered the on-air news team to move as far back in the building as possible, so they set up the broadcast in the kitchen used for TV cooking shows.

Next, the news team is asked to evacuate entirely. Oh, and get this: The police have sent out a Tweet detailing what areas of the city are closed to pedestrians and traffic and what buildings are being evacuated. Who would ever put the words "tweet" and "police" together. Wow.

I immediately went to Google to see what, if anything, was already out there. This has only been going on for less than 30 minutes, as far as I can tell, but I immediately found this:

"Bomb Threat Brings Police to Gallivan TRAX Station"

By Michael McFall

The Salt Lake Tribune

First Published 14 minutes ago • Updated 11 minutes ago

Police had cordoned off the Gallivan TRAX station Thursday night in downtown Salt Lake City because of a bomb threat. An officer said a man at the station at 275 S. Main St. claims he has a bomb.

Now, this might not seem like that big a deal to people who have lived much, if not all, of their lives in this high-speed, digital information age, but for someone like me—who started in the magazine business in the days of "hot type," ink, galleys and paste-up—it's astonishing. Not that it surprises me, for I know the speed at which information gets around these days, but it’s amazing nonetheless. And this is the first time I've watched it happen in real time.

Years ago, when I worked on a weekly newspaper, Thursday night—a Thursday night just like tonight—was "closing" night. We'd all hunker down in the news room, order dinner, and wait for the latest "hot" news to come in from our reporters around the world, so we could rewrite, choose front-page stories, write headlines, and "close" the paper so it made it to the printer on time to hit the desks of readers on Monday morning.

Now, literally minutes after the event, some reporter has already written and posted the news to the Web for the world to read.

How quaint those days seem now. Even though we wrote about technology 30 years ago, no one could have envisioned where we are today. It makes you wonder what's coming down the pike that will make today’s tech seem quaint 10 or 20 years from now. Maybe we'll be reporting on things before they even happen.