With the #ukriots well and truly calmed down, it’s time for reflection for the government, police and country. It’s the same for me, but reflecting on a completely different issue. The issue is Citizen Media and the role it played in covering last week’s riots in real time as they were happening.
As the troubles were unfolding in different towns/cities in England I created a dedicated stream within tweetdeck looking for all the twitpic, yfrog, etc images that were incoming seconds after rioters were causing trouble in an area.
The events were so surreal, listening to frightened residents looking out their apartment and describing to public what they should see through a number of mediums traditionally, BBC 5 live and local radio stations. Now with the advent of technology recording straight via mobile devices and publishing on the web (Audioboo, Twitter, etc) has become the norm with these platforms breaking big news stories. The first real time this happened was when an aeroplane made an emergency landing in the Hudson river which was captured on twitpic then the images were shown around the world within minutes of it happening.
It became apparent last week that major news providers like the BBC couldn’t keep up with the scenes as they were unfolding across England. With them showing clips from youtube, images from twitter and even in some cases audio from audioboo. It show’s that this concept of citizen media and citizen journalists really did take it’s own entity in reporting firsthand, from the ground as these events were happening before the major news agencies had time to send journalists/reporters to the scene. Also this was the first major time within the UK this had been done and to great effect. Below is a really compelling piece of audio recorded during the troubles in Croydon.
Obviously, other debates have been created with the role of social media played in creating activities such as mass looting to take place including the government considering shutting down the likes of facebook and twitter during such disturbances. Which I personally feel is completely wrong.
Image: 9.8.11 by Sy, released on Flickr under a Creative Commons Licence.