Mumbai and New Media

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I think everyone is now aware of the dreadful terrorist attacks that have occurred in Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay) and my heart goes out to everyone affected by them.

Whilst the traditional media journalists are covering this horrific event, it is citizens using new media like Twitter and blogs that are supplying traditional media with most of their information.  CNN’s TV coverage is focusing on what is being reported on Twitter and on blogs and are advising their viewers about which tweeters are providing the best up to date information and where to find photos of the attacks that have been uploaded on Flickr.  This combination of traditional and new media is unheralded.  It is good to see that traditional media is slowly letting go of the belief that only professional journalists can report on major events and is discovering that everyday people who are using new media tools like Twitter can provide more detailed and up to date information.

The co-ordinated attacks in Mumbai are like nothing the world has seen and will herald in a new age in terrorism. No one yet is sure how they were organised and what their purpose was. I won’t be surprised if some of this planning and the execution of theses attacks were done using the internet and new media. I hope that if this is revealed to be the case that the world’s governments will not see new media as a threat to be shut down in the hope that it will stop terrorism.  Most previous terrorist events were planned using mobile phones and I have not seen governments threatening to take down the mobile network to prevent terrorism.  Instead government and private citizens need to harness new media to alert people to potential events of violence and use it as a way to spread information.  By communicating with each other, we can understand others points of view and work together to provide harmonious communities where terrorism can not flourish.

I will be interested to see how the world reacts to these attacks and if an intelligent approach will be taken rather than fight violence with violence like they did when 9/11 occurred.

Update: Just as I published this post, the Indian government asked for the Twitter search page #mumbai which shows all tweets about Mumbai be shut down due to fears that the tweets may alert the terrorists to military operations.  The Indian government did not ask CNN, BBC and other news outlets to stop their live TV coverage of the same military operations that people are tweeting about.  It is worth noting that most people are tweeting about the coverage they are seeing on TV and are commenting on it.

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9 responses to “Mumbai and New Media

  1. Garurav: A fantastic blog post. Thanks so much for the link.

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  4. This is a great post on the fascinating trend (I hate to use that word, but it’s the only one coming to mind) of media becoming the common man. It’s interesting, as you note, that the mainstream media is beginning to embrace New Media. And, as of now, I prefer the perspective of the common man to that of the mainstream media.

  5. notsosahm: I still think professional journalist have a large part to play in creating the news that we read on a daily basis. However, I think more and more we are going to see a meshing together of traditional media and new media, like we began to see on CNN’s coverage of the Mumbai attacks. It is a very exciting time for media and I can’t wait to see the new directions it takes.

  6. So true. I think the word could also be pop-culture, but it is so much more.

  7. Interesting. And my nephew, an Aussie who lives in Mumbai, was contacted by an Australian journalist who found him on Facebook and asked if he would like to write something for her daily paper about where he was at the time and how it effected him.

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