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The first news images I ever see nowadays all come via social media channels. They provide pics, news, and corrections faster than publications, and they are often more local and relevant to my life. Even many of the popular online news sites I regularly check, including Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, and Gawker, were down during most of tonight’s post-tropical storm, so there weren’t as many aggregators as we’re used to working to distill and sift through the data floating about.
One of the things I enjoy about social media messages is the sense of witness you feel and the perception that you are seeing things from the inside, which is very unlike the brash sense of authority you get when TV cameras arrive on a scene.
Below are some of the notable images I encountered during Hurricane Sandy, though granted the storm is not yet over, and I consider them a photo essay of sorts even though many of the images are not mine. They are what I will remember about Sandy, and they will represent more than the hundreds of news stories that will come out tomorrow in an attempt to fashion a narrative for me.
Some of the images replicate and verify what I saw with my own eyes, including the explosions at ConEd’s transformer plant on 14th Street and Avenue B, which was captured on video (below) by a neighbor a few floors down. Others made me realize how parts of the city were suffering when the world around me seemed more secure. I read a tweet from a friend who was bracing for the worst at her Chelsea gallery as she saw the water stop just inches from her gate, and I often saw messages from people reporting that their electricity was out, their internet stopped, or their homes were beginning to flood.
We all seem to believe that the raw image is more true, and nothing feels more appealingly raw than social media eyewitnesses.