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06/03/2012

When bullets fly

Rick Madonik - Staff Photographer - @RMadonik

I'm resistant to change, especially technological change. Even when The Star switched to digital cameras, I was reluctant to take that step. (For work purposes, I can't imagine going back to film. That's not to say I don't miss film, I do.)

Last year, when I was headed to Libya to cover the ongoing conflict, I was asked to "Tweet" and declined to do so. Even with recognizing the role of social media, and its affect on the Arab Spring, I didn't want to be committed to Twitter. First, I was not a fan of letting the world know exactly where I was at any given moment since who knows who would be "following" my tweets. Secondly, there was the question about whether or not my phone reception would be working at all. (Often, in such circumstances, celluar phone activity is severely disrupted). 

Last night (Saturday, June 2, 2012) the newsroom was alerted to the shooting at the Eaton Centre by a Tweet from Toronto Blue Jays 3rd baseman Brett Lawrie (@blawrie13) who was inside the mall and heard the gunshots. When picture editor Canice Leung (@canice) dispatched me to the scene, she told me it was based on a tweet by the baseball player. I'll admit I rolled my eyes at the source, and gathered my gear and headed to the car.

Turns out Lawrie's information was right.

I would soon send out two tweets myself. "Shooting inside Eaton Centre. Two transported to hospital," and "One victim 13 yr old male. 2nd victim adult male." I tweeted this AFTER photographing the two victims as they were taken to ambulances. I chose to "report" one of the victims as 13 years old, when I overheard EMS personnel discussing which hosptial to transport the victim. (St. Mike's Heath Centre is the "trauma" centre and Hosptial for Sick Children, obviously, is for kids.)

The next time I checked my phone, perhaps 15 minutes later, the number of people "following" me had nearly quadrupled. Previously, I had a following of 40 people, and now its 145. Certaintly I don't have numbers like Lawrie - he has 125,000 followers - but I was surprised by the bump in numbers.

I can't say my opinion of "citizen journalism" has changed much, but there is some merit to it. Time will tell if such methods of reporting go the distance. After all, anyone could post something and it could "trend" worldwide before the information is verified, or proven wrong, or the facts lay somewhere between.

 

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An adult male, with what appears to be more than one gunshot wound to his upper left chest, is moved to an ambulance for transport to hospital.

 

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Police, EMS and Firefighters rush the 13 year old male to an ambulance as they exit the Eaton Centre.

 

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Crowds from the area, and those who may have been inside the mall, gather outside the Eaton Centre near Dundas Street.

 

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On the west sidewalk, people use their camera's to snap pictures of the ongoing drama as victims were transported to hospital following a late afternoon shooting at the Eaton Centre.

 

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Police, EMS and Firefighters wheel an adult male, with what appears to be more than one gunshot wound to his upper left chest, towards an ambulance for transport to hospital.

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A victim is transported to hospital following a late afternoon shooting at the Eaton Centre.

 

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A Police officer takes notes as he talks with Marcus Neves-Polino outside the Eaton Centre. Marcus told reporters on the scene he was next to the shooter and witnessed the shooting.

 

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Eaton Centre patrons move out of the mall onto Yonge Street at Dundas Street.

 

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Multiple teams respond to the Eaton Centre for investigation of the shootings. Gun and Gang Task Force as well as ETF were on scene. 

 

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A young man who may have witnessed some of the incident, or had information, was leaving the scene in a taxi when police asked to interview him. He, and two others, would then be taken to a police divison for further interviews. He was not under arrest.

 

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A concert continues on stage at Dundas Square as people gather to watch the developing scene at the Eaton Centre. 

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When asked to tweet you declined to do so?
And you still have a job?
Dinosaurs like you who are resistant to change should make way for more eager, hungry journalists that are willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done.
It's not like this Twitter thing started yesterday.
I can't imagine how a Star photographer only has 40 Twitter followers prior to this incident. That tells me you have no idea where the industry is headed. Nor must you care about breaking stories first.

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