Reporters at The Daily News were asked to choose what they think qualifies as the Kamloops 2012 Story of the Year. We'd like to hear from readers which story they think deserves the honour by voting online starting Thursday in the sidebar to the left.
The stories under consideration are:
* Missing or murdered women
* Use of Twitter in reporting
* Royal Inland Hospital expansion
* Kamloops bicentennial
It was early in the evening on May 17 when the first hint of trouble appeared under the #Kamloops hashtag on Twitter.
There was a gunman in a Dufferin neighbourhood; Possibly a bomb involved; Children in the house; Unknown hostages.
Details were sketchy, at best, but reporters had picked up enough alarming chatter on the police scanner to know something big was happening on Cannel Drive.
Media outlets dispatched teams to the area, hoping to get close enough to the action to report back. Photographers staked out high ground in the neighbourhood, hoping to get a view of the suspect and the house.
"According to the scanner, cops are now evacuating homes around the house where shots were fired, apparently in Hillside Dr. area. #Kamloops," tweeted Tim Petruk (@timpetruk), a reporter with Kamloops This Week.
As the evening progressed, Kamloops residents would be glued to their Twitter feeds, as Petruk and other journalists tweeted every sound, every movement seen or heard, coming from the house.
The hostage taking, which would end late that evening in the alleged suspect's death and a fiery explosion of the house, was a story told largely through social media.
In many ways, it marked a coming of age for social media in Kamloops. Here was a case where people could follow a story as it was happening, as if they were at the scene themselves.
There were many instances throughout 2012 where Twitter and Facebook became the driving sources of breaking news, offering an immediacy even the most up-to-date news website could not match.
Tweets alerted drivers of traffic accidents and road closures; they told homeowners about grassfires; and gave political junkies a minute-by-minute, blow-by-blow account of the most tepid, yawn-inducing City council meeting.
We learned this year, more than any year prior, that we could look to our smartphones and computers for real-time accounts of news in #Kamloops at any moment of the day.
For some, this constant checking of Twitter became compulsory, almost obsessive. We didn't know what we were looking for, but we looked anyway.
And that makes social media the big story of the year.
If Marshall McLuhan, the famed media theorist, were alive today, one has to wonder what he would say about Twitter and how it has influenced our habits.
McLuhan famously coined the phrase, "the medium is the message."
He believed that the medium (TV, movies, radio, etc) shaped how a message was perceived. Content, he argued, took a backseat to the actual characteristics of a medium.
The characteristics of Twitter, it could be argued, appear to have influenced what we care about as citizens. Twitter gives us immediacy, and we now crave that, regardless of content. Twitter gives us unfiltered observations, and we now crave those, however inaccurate they may be.
Twitter was the story of the year because it changed how we consume information, how we relate to it and how we interact with it. No longer satisfied to wait for the next newscast or website update, we turn to Twitter to see how City council is voting on a three-dog variance.
We have no vested interest in the issue, but we want to know, for reasons we can't quite explain, how Counc. Nancy Bepple has voted — because Twitter has taught us that we need any and all information and we need it as it's happening.
There were big stories all year, many of them worthy of being named 2012 Story of the Year, but none quite as big as the medium that delivered those stories in their breaking moments.
For good or ill, the medium was the message in 2012.