The man who changed twitter



24 January 2009 | Estimated reading time: 8 minutes


Hudson River Crash Photo - Janis Krums

With the press of a few buttons on his iPhone, Janis Krums changed the way the world looks at twitter. While the traditional news networks were still searching for the plane in the Hudson, that photo was already spreading like wildfire across the twittersphere.

Many people see the @jkrums photograph as signalling the beginning of the end for traditional news outlets. According to some bloggers Janis’s photo shows how old and new media can work together. For others it clearly demonstrates that the traditional media outlets haven’t missed a trick. Many of the newspapers and TV news stations didn’t pay a penny to the likes of Reuters and AP when US 1549 hit the Hudson. They all got their big photo for free that day – simply by visiting twitpic.

Undoubtedly, the @jkrums photo will be seen as a milestone in the evolution of social media but does it truly change the relationship between old and new media?

The best person to answer that question is probably @jkrums himself.

If you read my last blog post you’ll know that Janis agreed to do an interview with me, with all the questions coming from people out there in the twitterverse.

The questions cover everything you could possibly want to know – the crash, the photo, the news agencies, underwear choice, relationship status…

Asheville News – News Team –
Can you tell us in 140 characters or less how Twitting changed your life?
I became twitter famous for my picture. I have many more followers, and have made some great connections throughout this process.

Proud Raven (Name anonymous) – US Airways Flight 1549 survivor –
I was on flight 1549 when it crashed and although my own emotions and fears at that time are probably obvious I was wondering what sort of emotions went through your own mind as you approached the crash site in the ferry you were travelling on?
The first reaction was shock of seeing the plane in front of us in the Hudson. Second was of concern about why it was there and are the passengers alright.

After that, we acted on instinct and tried to do anything to get you guys out of the water as soon as possible. When we found out that it looked like everyone survived, I was relieved that something that could have been a huge disaster became the “Miracle on the Hudson”

Ken Morrill – Webmaster and author –
You gave your iPhone to one of the passengers after the shot was taken. What was the spirit of the moment like that allowed you to let go of material things?
It was the right thing to do; these people just survived a crash that could have taken all their lives. I really didn’t think twice about it, when we were getting off the ferry I got it back and that was it.

Pat Gunning – Founder of ArticlesBin –
Who do you consider a hero in this miracle event?
The pilot Chesley B. Sullenberger II is the unquestionable hero. He had seconds to make the correct decisions and each time he made the right ones to save everyone on the plane. He was the right pilot, with the right training and the right experience. If there was a pilot with less experience, the crash could have turned out totally different.

Andrew Nystrom – Senior Producer, Social Media, LA Times –
How did hitting the LA Times A1 feel? Here’s the link:
Feels good to see that a regular person can have such an impact on the traditional media scene. I’m still waiting for a copy of the paper. Haha!

David Sarno – LA Times internet writer –
How many media requests did you have, and how fast?
I had a lot of request but only took the ones that I actually picked the phone up for. Within an hour my voicemail was full. From the time that I stepped off the ferry I was getting requests. If I had to put a number on it, I would say it would be in 30’s, but that might be a conservative number.

Glen Canning – Video Journalist –
I was wondering what you felt about the copyright issues of your photo. It’s been viewed many many times. Have you received royalties from any of the news sources that have used it on their websites?
That’s the million-dollar question. I have not received any money for the picture. I still own the rights for it. Few friends of mine have knowledge concerning this, so I will see what they have to say and move accordingly.

Kyle MacRae – Tech journalist, author and ex-founder of Scoopt –
Would you rather have received 100,000+ hits on TwitPic or $100,000 for selling the picture commercially? Or perhaps both, if that was possible?
Both would be the best! The point that I have told many is that at the moment of taking the picture I had no idea that I had taken the first picture. I had no idea that it would be picked up from my twitter account. So now that I see all that has happened I am going to look into what type of options I might have.

John Fitzpatrick – writer and programmer –
Have you considered submitting the photo for a Pulitzer Prize? The way it has been used by the media, it is eligible. ($10,000 if you win)
That would be very cool. I have heard from couple of other people that it would be eligible and I think that would make this experience that much more incredible. I think that I would like to submit it; this would be a once in the lifetime opportunity. Especially since I’m not a journalist or a photographer.

Cwineman – Journalist –
How many followers did you have before you twittered the famous photo?
I think I was in the 180’s and getting excited that I will have 200 soon! As of now, I am approaching 4,000 followers. Thanks to all you guys!!

Sarah Wenstrand – Volunteer, writer and artist –
Are you interested in examining or researching who your main connectors were [on twitter and other websites] in disseminating the TwitPic? (Personally, I think it would be interesting data related to social media)
Yes, That would be very interesting to see. Not sure how I could go about it. If you have any suggestions please contact me and we could discuss it further.

Nora – Pittsburgh resident –
Janis, your name might be in a textbook someday as a study of the evolution of social media. Has immortality ever been a goal?
No it has not, but I will take it 😉

Jo Brodie – Science Information Officer –
How does it feel to be a ‘Twitter example’ (er…twexample?!) that people will likely be using for ages to describe to others how useful Twitter is?
It feels great that by doing something a simple as posting a picture unto twitter I was able to push twitter and social media more into the mainstream.

Girl with a one track mind (Zoe) – sex blogger and author –
Given you’ve had so much recent media attention, have developed a prominent – and international – public profile, and have gained a large increase in the people who follow you on Twitter, are you now more self-conscious and/or careful about what you tweet?
At first I thought that I should be more professional etc., but I think I have to be myself and tweet about things that are of interest, I can’t please everyone, so I will post things that I find interesting and hope that my new following finds it interesting as well.

Thom Singer – Business author, speaker and development director –
So what is it that you want to do with your career in the next 24 months, and how can this experience help you accomplish more than you would have if you had not had this brush with Twitter fame?
My main focus pre and now post the crash is Elementz Nutrition and getting everything set up for a successful launch in late March. With this experience I have a bigger reach on my twitter, which should help with promoting the launch of the company. In addition, I’ve had a chance to connect with some very interesting and knowledgeable people. I hope I can further cultivate these relationships and keep getting my network bigger.

Peter Jahn – Marketing Student –
How are the plans for your new start-up business coming along?
Things are going really well. We have the formulas in place; we have the financing as well. At this point we are in the pilot-testing phase. I am happy that we will have products that we are all proud of and that will improve an athlete’s performance and their quality of life.

Susan Preece – Mother of 3 and self-proclaimed crazy church lady –
I want to know about Janis before notoriety. Former athlete in what sport? Collegiate or professional? Seems like you have had an interesting life and this is just another wild adventure.
I was a basketball player. In high school my team was ranked in the USA Today top 25 poll. I played college ball at Menlo College in Menlo Park, CA. I still have many connections in the sports world and that’s how I got involved with the current company.

Sandi McKenna – Writer and producer –
What do you do, when you are not photographing miracles?
I am involved in a start up business for elite athletes called Elementz Nutrition. I love to be active and play sports in my spare time. Read, write blogs, and tweets. Try to enjoy every minute that I can. I’m a very positive person; I try to make the best of any situation.

Rosie McCulloch – Non-Profit PR & Marketing Co-Ordinator (Non-twitterer) –
What’s your favorite photograph that’s captured a moment in history?
Michael Jordan clutching the world championship trophy. I grew up idolizing MJ and that was one the most powerful scenes of pure emotion and happiness. Click here to view the photograph.

David – Twitter name not given
What is your favourite colour? What side of the bed do you sleep on? Boxers or Briefs?
Favourite colour is blue. I sleep on the left side of the bed. And, I wear boxers, on special occasions I might put briefs on.

Charles Arthur – The Guardian’s technology editor –
Have you bought a lottery ticket recently?
Not yet, I might have to though.

Emma, Diana, Ochuko and Hannah – Staff team at Make Your Mark –
What would you do with a tenner [roughly $20]? Who would win in a fight between 50 cats and a whale? Does Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) exist or is it a marketing sham?
Either do something active/unique or I would buy a slice of cheese pizza, un-sweet ice tea, and a chocolate ice cream or a piece of tiramisu. I’m a fat kid at heart, so anything associated with good food I’m for it!

I think a whale would win, by swallowing all the cats. Wouldn’t even be a match!

I hope that it exists; it’s hard to see it during these type of times. When every time you read something and its negative, or about someone cheating someone else, its hard to thing other wise. I hope that after these few years people will realize that we have to be better people and not get greedy and try to scam each other.

But, in all honesty, in twenty years everyone will forget what is happening currently. And this will happen again. It might not happen to the extent that we’re seeing, but there will again be a bust. And everyone will be blind sided by it…Good questions form silly to serious!

Carla Young – Project manager –
Are you single?
No I’m taken, I’m dating @emilyfiorella.

I appreciate all the questions, I had a great time answering them. Look forward to hearing feed back from everyone. Hopefully I answered to your satisfaction. If not, just email me or twitter me and we can further discuss whatever you might want to know.


Janis –

PS: You can tweet this story with one click by hitting the ‘twitthis’ or ‘sharethis’ buttons below. Feel free to get in touch via @ThirdSectorLab.

More from our blog

Man with video camera

March 5 2024

Seven Ways AI Can Streamline Your Video Production Process

With so many tools cropping up at once, how can the third sector keep up? Darryl Corner is the Video and Audio Lead at Third Sector Lab, and he's pulled together a list of AI tools which can make video content easier than ever! So, what can AI really do?
United Voices Network members stand together, smiling

October 4 2023

Partnering with United Voices Network to Promote Anti-Racist Youth Work

Third Sector Lab Director, Ross McCulloch, is handing over his twitter account to United Voices Network this Black History Month.
Three children hold hands in a field

September 29 2023

Celebrating Success: Content Design in the Children’s Sector

September's Roundtable event on content design for children was co-hosted by CELCIS and Our Hearings, Our Voices. Read to hear about their innovative work with children and young people.

September 13 2023

Websites Explained: How to Build a House 

Confused about how website design, development and hosting work? And where does your content fit in? We’ve put together a short guide to help explain how it works. 
How are Charities Using Social Media in 2023?

August 11 2023

How are Charities Using Social Media in 2023?

Third Sector Lab has compiled a list of some of our favourite ways charities are using social media this year. This includes specific campaigns, and more general online presence and activity. Get inspired with our round-up of great content in 2023 so far.
What is a Digital Trustee? A Guide for social enterprises, community interest companies and housing associations

July 31 2023

Digital Trustees: A Guide for Third Sector Organisations

Third sector organisations can be structured in all sorts of different ways. Most charities are led by a board of volunteers called trustees, who steer the organisation in the right direction. This may also be referred to as a board of directors. Community Interest Companies (CICs), housing associations and social enterprises have all approached us…