Social Media & the Haiti Disaster: The Transformation of Luke Renner

NBC Today news anchor Ann Curry described the Twitter-fueled transition of Luke Renner from a humanitarian into a virtual journalist in the aftermath of Haiti’s devastating earthquake during the Social Media & the Haiti Disaster panel at The New York Times Building in New York, part of Social Media Week 2010.

Curry told of learning what had happened in Haiti, and sharing news of the quake via Twitter, and then said, “Within minutes, I had a DM from a guy named Luke who identified himself as a humanitarian and said, ‘Yeah, I’m in Haiti, here’s my number.'”

Renner told Curry he had no clue just how serious the earthquake was because the area he was in wasn’t heavily damaged, saying, “It went from, ‘We feel like we dodged a bullet,’ to, ‘Oh my God…I can’t believe what we’re looking at here.'”

Of the technological issues facing Curry and her crew, she said, “We were using Twitter wherever we could find email, because the cell phones weren’t always working, and Skype. He was tweeting and I was retweeting his tweets whenever I could.”

Speaking of Renner, Curry concluded, “He went from being a humanitarian to a real citizen journalist.”