Evan Benton, Staff Writer

On February 12, 2010, two Metro cars on a six-car train jumped the rail. While there were no serious injuries, over 300 passengers were left stranded, and once again the thousands of people using the D.C. Metro system every day were left wondering: What the hell is going on here?
There are many reasons to be alarmed. This is the third such incident since mid-June of last year, when the area experienced the deadliest Metro crash in history: a collision of two trains resulted in nine deaths and over 76 injuries.

Since then, two Metro employees were crushed by a runaway utility vehicle on the tracks on January 27th; and now there’s this. Granted, cars jumping the rail is better than cars colliding, and in this case an “automated derailer” threw the trains off the tracks before they could collide with each other.
Really? An automatic derailer system? I wasn’t aware that the threat of train collision was so ominous and frequent that a derailer system was even necessary.

What’s worse is the fact that actual news stations didn’t pick up the incident until 15 hours after the derailment, leaving the populace ignorant to the event for even longer. What’s most embarrassing for a city proud of its journalistic history is that local news only got wind of the event from one dutiful member of the Twitter nation, whose simple Tweet, “Can’t believe a metro train was just derailed . . . *sigh*,”started a whole mess of Tweeting, to the extent that News 4 noticed and shrewdly decided to send a panel van down to Farragut North and start some actual reporting.

Unfortunately, this was not until long after the incident occurred, and hundreds of dumped riders had already made their way home. Journalism is not dead. In fact, apparently anybody can be a journalist nowadays. In a society where everyone has an iPhone with perfect 3G capability and bookmarked tabs to Facebook and Twitter just within fingertips’ reach, a status update or a Tweet can be a news tip like no other — instantaneous, reliable and easy.

Anyone with Internet capability can get information out to the public in a variety of ways, and news organizations that have started to embrace blogs and Twitter are finding themselves well ahead of the competition. When a serious incident occurs in the middle of the nation’s capital and remains uncovered by the news for hours, something is dismally wrong.

The woman whose Tweet brought the attention, Jada Bradley, is a columnist for The Examiner.
This makes me wonder just how much longer it would have taken if she had been a rider not affiliated with a news organization.

For the future, my advice to the local news is to keep someone posted on their Twitter and Facebook accounts, monitoring all the local Tweets and keeping a look out. People rely on the integrity, the fairness, but most importantly the swiftness of the news.

When Metro riders are the first journalists on the scene of a derailment, the actual newspeople are rendered obsolete.