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Eye-witness Twitter - on Mumbai bomb blast

Citizen journalism provides up-to-the-minute reporting of terrorist attack

Technology trends and news by Bambi Francisco Roizen
November 26, 2008
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/58b

The realization of the power and value of citizen journalism seemed to become evident today, following the brutal terrorist bomb attack in Mumbai, India.

According to Bloomberg, "as many as 80 people were killed and 240 injured in the Indian city of Mumbai in grenade and gun attacks late yesterday, with five-star hotels among the sites targeted." 

This report was the top report on Google News. It was posted 30 minutes from the time I read it.

On Twitter, the news coverage - either from people in Mumbai, or from people posting updates or suggesting resources to check out - was running like a ticker tape, providing non-stop and up-to-the-minute reporting, or opining.

Twitter, which was designed to capture ambient noise, was capturing sentiment in spades for this particular event. 


If you stayed on Twitter long enough, you'd gather all sorts of relevant information, commentary, analysis, and man-on-the-street accounts that could help you piece together information that not even CNN's experienced team could gather, at least fast enough. 

From key flash points on Google maps to Obama's official statement, to relevant numbers provided by this Tweet: "US State Dept call center for americans concerned about u.s. citizen family/friends in mumbai 1-888-407-4747."

Realizing that Twitter was where the action is, news outlets, from BBC, CNN and KCBSNews Twittered that they were seeking to talk to people living in Mumbai, or seeking to gather information and photos.


Other crowd-sourcing sites were at work providing coverage as well. At NowPublic, there was first-hand reporting as well. 


Twitter and NowPublic, and other crowd-sourcing sites, such as Flickr, were doing a much better job at getting participation. 

Forget CNN's iReport service. The last update on Mumbai was an hour ago. 


 

There have been many critics of citizen journalism, arguing that there would be degradation in quality and factual reporting. Well, clearly, you can't watch Twitter and take anything to heart. 

But citizen journalism isn't assaulting our culture or threatening our values, as some critics say. "Amateur hour has arrived and the audience is running the show," said one critic.

Indeed, the people are running the show. But, in this case, some are in the best position to do so.