03 December 2008

Social Media Reporting From Mumbai

How important a role did social media websites play in the coverage of last week’s attacks in Mumbai?

This question is being debated by journalists, bloggers and academics so here’s a brief guide to some of the articles cropping up.

According to Variety, citizen journalists claim they provided quicker and more accurate reports as events unfolded [HT - Editors Weblog].

It may well have been faster but Varity states that “much of the information on Twitter was woefully inaccurate”.

The microblogging platform forms the main point of enquiry in an online article on CNN, which asserts that users were sending a total average of 80 tweets every five seconds.

CNN points out that some of these messages held practical information such as pleas to potential blood donors to go to hospitals where supplies were running low.

The US broadcaster also notes that Twitter users were “mobilised to help with transcribing a list of the dead and injured from hospitals, which were quickly posted online”.

However, CNN does echo Variety by stating that a significant number of tweets “amounted to unsubstantiated rumors and wild inaccuracies”.

Despite reports showing extensive use of social media sites such as Twitter, one US-based academic contends there was an unexpectedly low amount of user-generated content.

Gauruv Mishra from Georgetown University told Journalism.co.uk that he had anticipated the attacks would have drawn more coverage by users in terms of photos and videos.

However, he did point out the photos uploaded by one eyewitness to his Flickr photo stream as events took hold.

Vinukumar Ranganathan shared more then 100 photos of scenes in Mumbai via his Flickr account.

Finally, Amy Gahran produced a round-up of social media reporting from Mumbai as the attacks continued.

Writing on Poynter Online, Gahran highlighted coverage on a current events section of Wikipedia, multimedia reports on NowPublic, and updates and thoughts emerging from the Indian blogosphere.

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