Ed Driscoll

When Medium Cool Turns Hot

In late December of 2005, I wrote:

Over Christmas Eve dinner, my wife and a couple of friends and I discussed the growing amount of firsthand reporting in the Blogosphere, including Iraq the Model’s real-time reporting for Pajamas on the Iraqi elections. I mentioned that such efforts are having an impact beyond the Blogosphere. For example, when the Miami NBC affiliate reported the story of a Chalk’s seaplane crash last week, the first photo to accompany the story was taken not by a professional reporter or photographer, but someone who simply happened to be on the scene with camera-equipped cell phone.

One friend sardonically quipped that eventually, we’re going to start seeing people sending photos from their cell phones from inside a plane as it goes down.

Fortunately, that latter half of that equation wasn’t an issue for blogger and licensed private pilot Jeremy Hermanns, but on a recent Alaska Airlines flight when the cabin accidentally depressurized, he was able to document the event with his cell phone camera and later, blog about it.

Such quick thinking isn’t just limited to amateur journalists of course, as the dramatic video of yesterday’s Indonesian jet crash highlights:

Wayan Sukarda, a cameraman for Australia’s Seven Network who was aboard, managed to scramble off the plane. He shot dramatic video of passengers fleeing the plane as black smoke, then orange flames, poured from the fuselage.

Sukarda even called the network as the plane was crashing, a colleague told The West Australian newspaper. “He was screaming, ‘The plane’s crashing.’ I thought he must have seen another plane crash. I didn’t know it was the one he was on. You could hear all the alarms and sirens going off, people screaming,” said Channel Seven’s Danny Sim.

An explosion and fireball ripped through the air, apparently as the fire reached a fuel tank, according to the video. It showed dazed and burned victims, including Indonesians and Westerners, sitting on the floor or lying on gurneys in the airport terminal.

Further reason to keep a digital video or still camera, or at least a cell phone camera handy at all times.