Nearly ten years ago, the way I first knew about the 9/11 attacks was when I received a text from a friend telling me to turn on the TV. Today, I logged onto Facebook when I woke up, after a push notification to my phone, and saw my news feed filled up with statuses bout the death of Osama bin Laden. Same device, a very different way of receiving the news.
For the last week, like many people I suspect, I’ve been semi-permanently watching the ongoing situation in Japan, from the early hours of the earthquake and tsunami, through to the current nuclear and humanitarian crisis. It’s hard not to get through an edition of the news without a lump in the throat many evenings at the moment.
From a grimly professional point of view, though, I found it fascinating that during the earthquake, the immediate response of some people was to grab a video camera and start filming, before posting the footage to YouTube or other social media sites.
Occasionally a service pops onto the internet that’s just brimming with potential for journalism (and the rest of the media). It doesn’t need any complicated explanations – you just plug and go and start having a lot of fun. Audioboo is one of those services.
Ostensibly it’s a very simple app for the iPhone that allows you to record a ‘boo’, which gets sent to the Audioboo website, where there are also the standard social networking functions. You can also embed it into your own website. This boo can literally be anything, but it’s normally short and snappy – rarely over two minutes. It’s a bit like an aural version of Seesmic or Twitter, although that’s not entirely accurate.
This is cool. It’s a picture taken by Marcus Warren from The Telegraph of the paper’s newsroom. That thingy on the left-hand screen of Twitterfall, an application that lets you track topics via a cascade in real time. This makes it invaluable for tracking breaking news stories via Twitter.
For a bit more on Twitterfall, and a quick guide to using this excellent application, Paul Bradshaw has more.
Now, regardless of whether you think Twitter is the second coming or view it as a place for trendy media types to hang out, the fact that the Telegraph has a Twitter app on a big screen in their newsroom suggests that they view it as a part of the newsgathering process (as it has been for a while now).
Surely cynical hack X can’t still now say Twitter isn’t useful to journalists. There you go, a perfect eyewitness for a pretty major story (although it probably helps to be on Twitter so you can introduce yourself before leaping in for an interview request).
With every major breaking news story, social media sites and sources keep outdoing themselves. The events in Mumbai have proved to be no exception, with Twitter once again leading the way.
Techcrunch notes that Twitter was talking about the terrorist attacks before the media cottoned on to the fact there was something major happening in the Indian City, and says that there’s no doubt that Twitter should now be considered a proper news source.
Who says blogs can’t break news? In an age where most footballer-penned blogs are full of bland commentary and meticulously on-message, Dean Windass’s post for his weekly ITV.com blog about considering his future at Hull if he didn’t get picked came as somewhat of a surprise. But it was also a great story, and one a journalism would usually have to work hard to get out of a player.
Unsurprisingly, it was the blogs who picked up on it first, before the local newspaper, the Daily Mail, the Vital Football Hull fan site and ESPN,all done with just a couple of emails alerting people to the story. AFter that, things snowballed.
Couple of fascinating posts on citizen journalism on BeetTV and Phil Bronstein on thoughts around citizen journalism. It has not, says Bronstein, taken off on a large scale. He also sums up the current position neatly:
“The whole concept of citizen journalism is still floating around waiting for a good example wave to carry it somewhere, and user-generated material has yet to be a huge hit within the media world unless someone with a Flip catches Brangelina running into a lamp post.”
Let’s up a quick recap first with the Condensed and Possibly Not Entirely Accurate History of Citizen Journalism According To Gary.
It terms of the unexpected, getting several tweets and rss notifications of a bomb blast of my home city of Exeter had to be pretty high on the list of things I never quite thought I’d see . As, until just under eight months ago, it was also my reporting patch, it also gave the opportunity to follow the story from a variety of sources, analyse coverage, and see what, if any opportunities had been taken or missed online, and with social media.
It also made me a teeny bit jealous and nostalgic that I wasn’t down there reporting.
Ben had the information before some news outlets and roughly at the same time as Sky and the BBC. The information came from his Twitter feeds.
Increasingly, many journalism and media bloggers are mentioning how useful Twitter can be in breaking news (the UK earthquake being another example) and subsequent newsgathering, and goes to show exactly how our landscape is changing.
Technorati, Google Feeds, Facebook… now it seems Twitter is another Web 2.0 service than journalists, and others in the media, need to get on board for.