Shaping the media with mobiles
August 4th, 2005

Four weeks on from the London bombings,the news business in Britain has changed forever. The BBC gives us here a detailed account of the photos they received from citizen reporters and how they – and other newsrooms used them.

“The BBC received 50 pictures from the public within an hour of the first bomb going off on 7 July. By the weekend it had 1,000 images and dozens of video clips sent by e-mail and direct from mobile phones.

Two mobile phone sequences were used on the Ten O’clock News, powerfully conveying the claustrophobic atmosphere on the smoke-filled underground, and a still image from a phone dominated the BBC News website. Around 22,000 texts and e-mail messages poured in with personal testimonies on the first day.

Other newsrooms were also inundated, and soon actively soliciting the public’s help.

… The rise of the citizen-journalist is a global phenomenon – witness the Toronto plane crash this week, in which escaping passengers took the time to photograph the scene.

It does raise issues of concern: About privacy – if you’re a victim do you want your picture plastered over the front pages?; authenticity – how can you tell the images are genuine?; and possible interference in the course of justice – the police ordered a news blackout on the morning they went in to arrest suspects.

But the mobile phone genie can’t be put back in the bottle.”

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