Hat Tip To Mumbai Bloggers Getting Their Workout
BLOGGERS across Mumbai fed live updates of the action after Islamist gunmen launched waves of attacks in the heart of India’s financial capital, highlighting the emergence of citizen journalism in news coverage.
Some, including a blogger named Vinu, were furiously uploading photos of damage from the attacks that killed at least 101 people and injured 287, with scores of foreigners, including Westerners trapped in luxury hotels.
Images of the attacks also surfaced on photo-sharing website Flickr.
Some bloggers provided running descriptions and commentaries from near the action, while others vented emotions.
‘I’ve been tweeting almost all night, too, from Mumbai.
Upset and angry and bereft,’ said businesswoman Dina Mehta on her blog, http://www.dinamehta.com/blog.
Twitter, the wildly popular ‘micro-blogging’ site where users communicate with short ‘tweets’ of 140 characters or less, saw intense activity on Thursday.
Within five seconds at 0748 GMT (3.48pm Singapore time), 80 messages were posted.
Posts included offers of help for the media and updates on the situation.
Twitter came in for some criticism as well in the blogosphere for divulging too many details that could prove helpful to the gunmen holed up in the hotels with their hostages and who may have been been monitoring blog sites.
‘It’s a terrorist strike. Not entertainment. So tweeters, please be responsible with your tweets,’ said one blogger identified as primaveronzmumbai.
Several local Indian news channels were reported to have carried a live feed of the twitter updates on the Mumbai attacks.
Trying to aid India’s weak public services, Mumbai Met Blog, (www.mumbai.metblogs.com) posted the telephone numbers of hospitals on its website, encouraging readers to donate blood.
Blogs such as Mumbai Help (mumbaihelp.blogspot.com), offered advice to those with friends and family in the city.
‘Suggest you avoid calling. Lines are bound to be screwed.’
New media analyst Cherian George said events such as the Mumbai attacks and the London bombings have spotlighted the emergence of citizen journalism and user-generated content.
‘If the event is highly dispersed and affects very large numbers of people, it would be physically impossible for a very large news organisation to keep track of every development,’ Mr George said.
Eyewitnesses have been posting up-to-date information and footage of the attacks on social networking site Twitter and their blog pages.
Amit Varma was with friends in a hotel close to where the shootings took place.
He said: “We waited in the lounge-bar upstairs for a while. The big screen there was showing cricket. India won. Then someone changed the channel.
“That’s when we realised that this was much more than a random police encounter, or a couple of gunshots.
“We watched transfixed, and as the apparent scale of the incidents grew, we realised we couldn’t go home.
“We asked if they had a room vacant; they did, so we settled in, switched on the TV, and watched in horror.”
Another blogger couldn’t believe the attacks. He wrote: “I can’t believe this is my city.”
“I can’t believe I just passed Ramada hotel ten minutes ago and didn’t realise that the little crowd near the gates would end up being a gunfire battle.
“A friend of mine is in there. His wine glass had a bullet go through it.
“He said he was being evacuated to the 18th floor except that’s where they apparently took hostages. We can’t get through to his phone.”
“A month afterwards, not one single newspaper mentions it,” she continued.
“We in the West mourn or victims for years. Maybe this is why foreigners are being targeted now: it is the only way for the terrorists to ensure they get an international coverage.”
Another person wrote: “We might get over this in a few days like all the past incidents, but I hope we can address this feeling of helplessness in the people of India someday.”
A Twitter user had also called for aid for the hundreds wounded, and simply posted: “Blood needed at JJ hospital.”
Hat Tip to all the brave Blogger Citizens for stepping up to the emergency and helping so quickly. The news hungry look to bloggers’ first hand observations and information about relief needs. They even offer to connect anxious family members of the victims. Bloggers can be real humanitarian citizens, as we are witnessing right now. In the ‘OLD DAYS’ it was ham radio that connected the world in crisis, bloggers may be the new kid on the block, but they are very effective.