Randy McDonald (rfmcdpei) wrote,
Randy McDonald

[LINK] "How a D.C. Hockey Fan Site Got the Russian Meteorite Story Before the AP"

Garance Franke-Ruta's post at The Atlantic is fantastic. Wasn't it a generation ago under the Soviets that the whole area around Chelyabinsk was closed off as a high-security area?

If you were on Twitter last night your first English-language news of the Russian meteor hit -- the largest to come to Earth since the 1908 Tunguska explosion in Siberia -- likely came from a website with a passel of the most amazing Russian dashboard cam videos and a name guaranteed to raise suspicions about its veracity. That is, of course, unless you are a Caps fan, in which case you know that Russian Machine Never Breaks is a great source of news and information about some of the Washington region's most outsized sports figures on one of its best teams -- and not a site given to elaborately staged pranks and hoaxes.

It was the Russian players who put the Washington Capitals on the map in the National Hockey League, and who've since made the team a surefire bet for D.C. residents who like to cheer for winners. And Caps fans are looking forward to more of them coming to the city, too -- players like Evgeny Kuznetsov, a forward who plays for Traktor Chelyabinsk and was drafted 26th overall by the Washington Capitals in 2010. His arrival in Washington has been much-anticipated and closely followed by the men at Russian Machine, a site that describes itself as "A cheerfully demented Washington Capitals site with a healthy fixation on Alex Ovechkin and his Russian bros."

It was the site's Moscow correspondent -- hey, you can't have a top Caps blog without one -- who broke the news to the D.C. crew.

"Fedor Fedin heard about the explosion (we didn't know the cause) through social media and radio around 11:00 PM ET. He relayed it to us," said Russian Machine editor Peter Hassett of Frederick, Md., in an email.

"I scoured Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube using the Cyrillic version of Chelyabinsk and its nickname 'Chelly'. Fedor translated tweets from the only reliable source we could find (@plushev, host of a news radio program in Moscow).

"I was skeptical at first, but once I saw multiple videos from multiple users showing the same contrails and sonic boom in addition to a Russian-language reporter repeating official news releases and a first-person tweet from a North American goalie known to be playing in the region, I bought the story."

Yes, you heard that right -- a Canadian former Atlanta Thrashers goalie now playing for Traktor Chelyabinsk helped break the news online on Twitter, because that's how media works today.
Tags: asteroids, disasters, former soviet union, globalization, hockey, links, russia, social networking, sports, twitter
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