No quiet riot as mobiles help showcase protest to the world

12 Nov

Yesterday’s student demonstration in London made clear precisely how pivotal mobile technology now is for modern journalism.

In days gone by we would have heard real-time information about the protest and the ensuing rioting via the radio. Whatever the presenter told us was exactly what we would have believed. For a visual handle you’d have to wait until the evening news, whereby you’d see some footage and hear a reporter explaining the event based either on what they had witnessed, or the sources they chose to speak to. Essentially the coverage of an event involving hoards of people over a vast space would have been conveyed via very limited pairs of eyes and ears.

Images were uploaded onto Flickr by mobile journalists such as Sarah Noorbakhsh

Nowadays this form of reporting has taken a kick to the teeth. We, as the absorbing public, demand speed, efficiency, accuracy and engagement as prerequisites. Yesterday we were able to watch a new breed of reporting in perfect motion, as eyewitnesses posted minute-by-minute information on Twitter, and photographers uploaded via Flickr. Sky News’ Kay Burley, who made several slapdash reporting bloopers, could have learned a thing or two from the would-be journalists on the streets.

The Guardian impressively ran a live feed from the protest, with several reporters on the ground, including Paul Lewis: renowned for breaking the Ian Tomlinson story. The fact that the Guardian places such emphasis on mobile journalism says much about their online leanings and fear of market dissipation. Hundreds of tweets were piling in throughout the protest, all offering new snippets of information, with many people following the event exclusively on Twitter. The Guardian realised that having their name in this information flood would be invaluable.

BBC interactive reporter, Anna Adams, writing about the surge of mobile-generated content at the protest, said: ‘It’s not often you can cover a story from your desk almost as well as you could if you were on the ground.’

Indeed, the most telling images on the BBC’s news channel were recorded using a mobile phone. Hillbank receptionist, Asif Khan, filmed protestors as they infiltrated the building for the first time. The images, which Khan uploaded to his Flickr account, helped the story evolve on television in a way that would have been unimaginable ten years ago.

Sky News also chose to use  this mobile  footage attained from Youtube to give their reporting life and weight.

Trawling through the thousands of tweets, photographs and videos has rekindled the drama that defined the day. Whilst it certainly wasn’t a victory for the police and the government, it was a victory for mobile journalism and its increasingly prevalent role in our media landscape.

Photo: Sarah Noorbakhsh

Video: Fozzly

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5 Responses to “No quiet riot as mobiles help showcase protest to the world”

  1. Paul Bradshaw November 15, 2010 at 5:26 pm #

    Nice to see this littered with links which really adds to it. Broadly speaking I’d like to see you exploring research on how people consume news on mobiles, and the experiences of those using mobiles for journalism (MoJos)

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