Posted by: sarahmeyers | January 22, 2008

Heath Ledger’s death breaks on twitter first


Heath Ledger was found dead today inside his hotel somewhere in SoHo, Manhattan, when a house cleaner discovered him unconscious as she went inside the hotel room to let in a masseuse scheduled to arrive this morning. The police found pills by Heath’s pallid dead body. My friends on twitter say it must be the fame, illness, attention or even a hard time in his life. Whatever it was that caused the death, it goes to show how I trust and learn about news. Every blogger has information hubs they trust, read and listen to. Most of the time information comes from a close circle of friends. After that, stories may come from a larger pool of information. Often my larger pool of information comes from twitter. Day in and out I use it even if I’m finding out where a party is or finding tips. It’s a great way to pull in pieces to a story and find out what your friends think about breaking news.

Often news first breaks on twitter, like today when Heath Ledger was found dead. Twitter is a place for micro-bloggers to engage in conversations about their upcoming posts. One part of what makes it valuable is the influential micro-bloggers like Robert Scoble and Jeremiah Owyang whom find it easy and beneficial to twitter between blog posts so we know what’s on their radar. The other great part is having people who don’t have many followers, but update often and engage insightful thought in our conversations. Some people bash Robert Scoble for following over 6,000 people, they’re asking how any sane person could sort through all the clamor of incessant twitters bombarding in. I understand what those people mean about the “noise” when I saw my twitter feed flowing today with “Heath Ledger Heath Ledger Heath!”


Word of mouth is the strongest way to reach people in times of uncertainty in the news. I heard the news initially from Andrew Baron who asked, “who’s Heath Ledger?” I went on twitter to find out why. When things like this happen there is a strong impact on our culture. When ever there is an impact in culture as human beings we revert back to our learned behavior, our culture, our inner knowlege of how to cope, we search for resources that will give us information we may trust. This will almost always take place by asking a friend and then reaching out to a larger source of information. For many twitter is a first hand example of the larger pool of friends we turn to as events shape our culture.

Heath, the actor Twitter was talking about today, stared in 10 Things I Hate About You and went on to become nominated for an academy award for his performance in Brokeback Mountain film I haven’t seen. This news will have an impact on Austrian and American culture. We will have to see what happens in Hollywood where he is supposed to finish the film, Batman The Dark Night, and go on to shoot a Terry Gilliam film, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. I feel sorry for his daughter, Matilda, he had with Michelle Williams because she will not know him well. A commenter on the Wired post about this tragedy says, “Holy shit. This is going to make watching the Dark Knight a little harder.” Not only that, it’s going to make it impossible not to see. I am definitely going to see The Dark Night and, honestly, if Heath remained alive I wouldn’t go this summer. Heath’s last moments on earth are performed in the Batman movie where he plays the joker and is masked by a clown face with dripping mascara. What is the reason? Is Heath an example of the consequence of the “life streamer” papparatzi and his fame or was his death an accident?

Breaking news like today’s story has impacted the lives of many on Twitter. It goes to show that Twitter is an interesting experience for someone looking to find news and yields many advantages for bloggers. Having a strong micro-blog will promote your blog to break into the social scene of blogging. Asking questions like I did today about Heath and the news will give you different sides of the story. Some times the best angles to a story are left in the comments.


  1. I find a place like twitter may be better for finding out about news that is personal like this story because you get the support from your friends when discovering the news. I’m not on twitter, but am thinking about getting an account. It seems the same as tumblr. Would you compare tumblr to twitter?

  2. Wow, big deal. Another actor overdoses on drugs and is called the biggest news of the week. And another big whop to you, Sarah, for being so insightful as to notice that people actually blog about it on twitter.

  3. I guess if you didn’t get it from the post my main point is that it’s unique to get personal news from twitter because with things like death you want the word of mouth perspective on all this. Hearing it from my friends made it so much easier to digest.

  4. I have noticed listening to word of mouth for news will result in reporting on inaccurate stories.

  5. This is so sad. 😦

  6. Oh and @FTWBears Tumblr is more like wordpress. Pownce is like twitter. Tumblr is for long blog posts.

  7. Sad. I dont really know if I saw any of his movies.
    I much prefer the new look Sarah, its much easier on the eyes.

  8. @Jacob1915 I find white easier to hang with. Black was to hard to read on. Black is better for watching videos on, but this is a blog!

  9. I like the new site design.

  10. Thanks, now it looks more like

  11. I doubt it will have much effect on ‘Austrian’ culture…

  12. I got it via facebook myself – a friend of a friend found out on irc, all a good 3.5 hours before the BBC ran the story.

    I’m just hacked off about the Westboro Baptist Church (of infamy) who are apparently going to picket his funeral, because he acted in a piece of fiction about 2 gay guys. Honestly…

  13. irc is just as fast as twitter. Actually irc is much faster than twitter.

    I should do a story on that…

  14. wrt to twitter – tis not the A- lister you mention who are on the ball..

    ” Heath Ledger dies — wtf ?? hes just like under 30 yrs !! 04:53 PM January 22, 2008 from web”

    figure the time lines …. its a rebutall to your observations on what twitter is really about :)-

  15. Too bad, he had a bright future in the film industry.

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