What happens when a group of social media freaks—including Ann Curry—get trapped in an elevator? It is electronically recorded and broadcast over the internet at near-dizzying speed. Welcome to the most thoroughly documented elevator entrapment ever.

Today, after a Times-hosted panel on social media & Haiti, Ann Curry got stuck in the Times' building elevator. The ensuing events constitute a textbook example of how "the crowd" beats Old Media in covering breaking news. EVEN IN THEIR OWN HOUSE. The TODAY news anchor herself alerted us to the breaking news earlier this evening via Twitter:

And of course @jeffpulver tweeted:

and @holaphil tweet—well, you get the idea.

BREAKING: ANN CURRY TRAPPED IN ELEVATOR. We went off to fix a sandwich while awaiting further developments. We figured it would take at least five minutes for the Times to scramble reporters—it's a big building!—plus another five to report, plus 5-10 to write it all up. After making our tuna melt, we'd sit down and read the dutifully copy-edited item by A.G. Sulzberger on Cityroom to learn if Curry and Internet ubernerd Jeff Pulver had been freed from the bowels of the Grey Lady, or if the two were still trapped and drawing straws that would determine the order in which they'd eat each other when food ran out.

But we forgot about the power of "the crowd." These people had just come from a social media panel; the elevator was packing more telecommunications than a nuclear submarine. Just moments after Curry's tweet, a video was uploaded by Phil Thomas DiGiulio and we learned firsthand of conditions on the motherfucking ground: A famous newslady and popular Internet nerd weren't the only ones trapped in the elevator; six other adult humans, including the Times' social media editor and a random Asian dude, languished there as well. And everyone, it seemed, was was in various stages of tweeting:

The situation grew tense as rescuers raced against the clock: If a rescue operation took hours, the enormous flow of tweets streaming from the elevator might shut down the entire Twitter network!

Ann Curry tried to lighten the mood with a story about her interview with Obama. Everyone laughed. The cool kid and the weird goth girl began sneaking glances at each other. Ann Curry held something in her hand that was probably turning her voice into Facebook status updates as she spoke. Meanwhile, the Times remained eerily silent on the matter. Sure could use a fact check with the Obama administration re: Curry's purported "interview," guys:

Finally, more than an hour after the ordeal began, Freedom! "Is this going on Youtube or something?" asked a confused security guard. Where was Cityroom to gin up a quick post about the history of people uploading video of themselves trapped in New York elevators? Sleeping, probably. Just like all of Old Media.

Even now, more than six hours after the original video was posted, Cityroom has yet to weigh in on one of the great elevator entrapments of our time. Social media wins again.

[video by Phil Thomas DiGiulio via pegshot.]