You've all seen the videos by now of the man being dragged from his seat on a United flight after being bumped from the flight. Almost as soon as they were uploaded (to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and so on) they spread rapidly across the web. This is an amazing way for a news story to originate.
Traditionally, news stories originate at a newspaper or TV station. They file the report, broadcast or publish it, and then let the public spread the story from there. What happened with the United story, and more and more stories these days, is almost the exact opposite. It originated from 'normal' people, who decided to take video of something they saw that they thought was newsworthy, published it, and then the news outlets circulated the stories from there.
With millions of smartphones around the world, it should be expected that this is how news is going to operate in the coming years and decade. Someone decides to take out their phone, and then it gains traction on the web. This is a bottom-up approach rather than the traditional top-down. The former is a far more democratic way to treat news.
The reality is that there are millions of stories each day that people would flock to and share with their network, but they don't get the coverage. With a smartphone, all you have to do is hit record and send it out to the world.