Mumbai – Confirmation of Social Media as the way to cover breaking news

Twitter, Blogging and Wikpedia have offered the world the best – fastest updating, most human and most comprehensive account of how the Mumbai events unfolded.

If there was ever proof that this combination has taken its place in the forefront of breaking news – this is it.

Here is a link to JP’s excellent post on this topic – that shows you graphically what I mean.

Here is Dina’s summary of many of the online resources.

Now networks such as CNN go to people like Dina for insight

As Newspapers and the Networks slowly die, their replacement gets stronger.

Here is the Daily Telegraph’s acknowledgement of this.

Indeed, many mainstream media outlets, including CNN, used video footage and photos sent in from people on the ground in Mumbai to illustrate their reports, and many television stations, radio stations and newspapers were also keeping a close eye on Twitter and the blogosphere in the hope of finding out more information.

Despite the obvious value and immediacy of these eyewitness accounts, there are signs that the blogosphere is struggling to know what to do for the best when these sort of incidents occur.

While Twitter is a powerful social medium for spreading news and information, some government agencies fear it could also be used by terrorists as a tool for communication. Last month, the US military warned that terrorist groups could use free, internet-based services, such as Twitter, as a means of communicating covertly across a medium that is difficult for authorities to trace and track.

In fact, it is alleged that at the height of the Mumbai terrorist attacks, the Indian government tried to shut down the Twitter stream people were using to spread news and information, amid fears that it could be used by the terrorists to help them evade capture.

While Twitter and other social media are not yet in a position to replace the mainstream media, there can be no doubt that they provide a powerful communication platform. Last night, the social web came of age.

Here is the New York Times adding their support to this idea of Twitter & Social Media coming of age:

From his terrace on Colaba Causeway in south Mumbai, Arun Shanbhag saw the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower Hotel burn. He saw ambulances leave the Nariman House. And he recorded every move on the Internet.

Mr. Shanbhag, who lives in Boston but happened to be in Mumbai when the attacks began on Wednesday, described the gunfire on his Twitter feed — the “thud, thud, thud” of shotguns and the short bursts of automatic weapons — and uploaded photos to his personal blog.

Mr. Shanbhag, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, said he had not heard the term citizen journalism until Thursday, but now he knows that is exactly what he was doing. “I felt I had a responsibility to share my view with the outside world,” Mr. Shanbhag said in an e-mail message on Saturday morning.

The attacks in India served as another case study in how technology is transforming people into potential reporters, adding a new dimension to the news media.

At the peak of the violence, more than one message per second with the word “Mumbai” in it was being posted onto Twitter, a short-message service that has evolved from an oddity to a full-fledged news platform in just two years.

Those descriptions and others on Web sites and photo-sharing sites served as a chaotic but critically important link among people across the world — whether they be Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn tracking the fate of a rabbi held hostage at the Nariman House or students in Britain with loved ones back in India or people hanging on every twist and turn in the standoff while visiting relatives for Thanksgiving dinner.

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