Mumbai attacks, technology and journalism

Hi everyone —
Much has been written over the last week on the influence of Twitter and technology during coverage of the Mumbai attacks. Over the years, it seems that each major breaking news event brings with it a spectrum jump in the use of technology. And, the Mumbai attacks proved this out as well.
Hotel workers were texting each other about what to do during the siege and citizen journalists used Twitter to provide eyewitness reports. From all indications, it would appear Twitter is here to stay. Some accounts:

“You can jump up and down and shout all you want that Twitter isn’t a real news source. But all you are doing is viewing the world through a reality lens that’s way outdated. People want information fast and raw from people who are on the scene. If it gets a little messy along the way, that’s ok. We’ll soon see tools that help us distill the really good stuff out of the stream anyway. What matters isn’t any individual Twitter message and whether it’s right or wrong. It’s the organism as a whole, the aggregate, that lets people stream what they’re witnessing in real time to the world. That aggregate stream gives us more information, faster, than anything before. It’s news, and it’s incredibly valuable.”

* Shefali Yogendra explains why twitter is the perfect tool for emergencies:

As Mumbai saw an unprecedented instance of what can only be described as ‘distributed terrorism’, Twitter sprung into action. Twelve hours later, Twitter users all over the world were saying they found Twitter updates more reliable, timely and clear. The following characteristics of Twitter make it a perfect tool for use in emergencies – both for disseminating updates and information, and for coordinating help efforts such as contacting friends and relatives, and organizing blood donation drives.

Some other stories:

* NYT:

* Mindy McAdams:

* WSJ:

* Global Voices:


About journalismprof

Steve joined the journalism faculty at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in August 2007 and has been working to incorporate multimedia across the curriculum. Since arriving at UMass, Steve has developed three courses modeled after his multimedia journalism course. The courses allow students to work in teams in a newsroom-like environment where they work on packages -- using video, audio and photos to tell stories. He is also working with students on developing, a news Web site staffed completely by students. Steve has more than 25 years of experience as an editor and reporter for print and online publications, including 10 as an editor at He also edits part-time for with the NFL and college football network.
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