How the Media Rushed to Cover Bin Laden’s Death

The news first broke on Twitter

The media made a mad dash to cover last night’s news about the death of Osama Bin Laden.

As soon as the White House announced that President Obama would hold a special press conference late Sunday night, speculation began as to what the subject of the surprise announcement would be.

As the White House repeatedly delayed the speech (it was scheduled for 10:30 p.m., and the president finally went on around 11:35 p.m.), the story exploded over the Internet, where former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's chief of staff Keith Urbahn announced via Twitter that he had been “told by a reputable person they have killed Osama Bin Laden.”

Anchors ran to their studios to begin covering the event. But with all of the unsubstantiated reports surfacing online, the typically eager cable news teams were particularly careful to double-check their sources before making any definitive reports, so that “some peculiar moments ensued as on-air reporters still held back from saying too much prior to an actual confirmation,” the Huffington Post noted. NBC’s Mike Viqueria, for one, had already begun reading a note from colleague Pete Williams about the subject of Obama’s announcement, before being told to hold off.

Many major news organizations broke the story online, particularly over Twitter. The New York Times’ reporter Jeff Zeleny tweeted the newspaper's first announcement before the full story was posted on its website. The Times, New York Post, and New York Daily News all quickly went to work ripping up their front pages to get the news on the cover—a distinctly old-fashioned problem within an evening so heavily dependent on new media.

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