28 July 2008

When Bangalore was bombed, Twitterers turned reporters

I thought I had seen it before.
But I was not sure.
Where have I seen this before, I wondered.
Oh, it reminded me of my days in Reuters, when the editorial system saw cluttered reports from correspondents and stringers piling into a box, similar in topic but diverse in style and datelines.
Only, this time, the loop was not closed and secure.
When bombs went off in Bangalore last Friday, the savvier techies were turning to a social media "friendfeed" to make sense.
This is what I read on Ashish Sinha's pluggd.in


"There are ~8 bomb blasts reported so far. Since telco networks are jammed, please use this twitter id to share your status (so that your near and dear ones can know your well being).Or else, use spy to track the bangalore news across social media.

Word of advice: if you are in your office, stay there. Please do not add to the traffic jam/chaos by leaving for home right now!"

What is "spy"?
It turns out that this link is what he was talking of
Click on that, and you are officially evesdropping on stuff related to Bangalore.
On that eventful day, this was like a reporter's dream come true.
Of course, like in all cases, reporters can face hoax calls, crank messages and sundry useless stuff coming their way. And this was no exception.
But it was educative to see how "citizen journalism" had at least come somewhere near reasonable tip-offs for mainstream reporters.
A lot of the messages that day were get-well-soon type twitters or inane kill-those-terrorists rants..but some of it made a lot of sense, as eyewitnesses and alert citizens fed information from the ground -- for ANYONE who cared, ANYWHERE on the planet.
This is what newsrooms must be alert to in the Digital Age.

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