Today in Media History: 2009 Hudson River crash-landing photo sent with Twitter

January 15, 2015
Category: Uncategorized

On January 15, 2009, using Twitter, TwitPic, and his iPhone, Janis Krums posted one of the first photos of the US Airways plane that crash-landed in the Hudson River.

His Twitter message:

Composite image of Janis Krums's original message and photo

Composite image of Janis Krums’s original message and photo

The story of the photo as it was reported by CNN in 2009:

Janis Krums was heading to New Jersey on a ferry when he clicked a snapshot with his iPhone of US Airways Flight 1549 partially submerged in the Hudson River. He uploaded the picture to his Twitter account and then forgot about it as he assisted in the rescue of the plane’s passengers.

The deluge of image views crashed the servers of TwitPic, the application that allows Twitter users to send photos with their Twitter updates or ‘tweets.’

‘I posted it because I thought ‘That’s pretty newsworthy’ and I wanted to share it with the people who follow me on Twitter,’ Krums said. ‘I was letting some of the survivors use my phone and it wasn’t until later that I looked and saw that I had quite a few messages.’

More people are turning to social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook and Flickr when news breaks to share stories and pictures.

In an era when even the president of the United States has a Facebook page and spectators texted and tweeted about Inauguration Day, the power of online and digital social networking is clear.”

NBC News describes the events of January 15, 2009: “Surviving Flight 1549.”

The Hudson River crash photo serves as another marker in the history of online/mobile journalism. Here is an excerpt from The Telegraph:

“The incident also provided some interesting insights into new new media versus old new media. As Twitter user hrhmedia pointed out, the FlightStats information website was showing the downed flight as 26 minutes late, but still ‘en route’ to its destination of Charlotte in North Carolina. And while Twitter’s trends page, which identifies the hot keywords used in tweets, was flagging up terms such as ‘US Airways’, ‘Hudson’, ‘plane’ and ‘crash’, Google’s similar trending service showed no signs of those keywords an hour and more after the incident occurred.

Wikipedia, though, was almost instantly updated following the plane crash, both to add a whole page about flight 1549, and also to amend an entry about water landings, and the survival rate of those involved.

As in countless previous disasters, from the China earthquakes to the Mumbai terrorist attacks, the social media has been at the forefront of breaking and disseminating news. It provides an invaluable real-time running commentary on events, which, when taken together with the factual accuracy, analysis and commentary of the mainstream media, provides a fascinating and rich account of major incidents.

As the iPhone blog puts it : ‘Paradigms shift. It happened with telegraph, with radio, with television, with satellite… is it happening again with the iPhone and Twitter?'”