Following Mumbai Attacks via Social Media

Right now, the Indian city of Mumbai is reeling under coordinated terrorist attacks. In addition to mainstream news coverage from India and around the world, Internet users are sharing news and information — including people in Mumbai, some of whom are at or near the attack scenes.

Here’s a quick roundup of social media to check for updates and reactions. Some of this information is produced by professional news orgs and journalists, most is not. Use your own judgment regarding which to trust…

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Can you commit journalism via Twitter?

Today on Twitter Tips, Jason Preston asks:

“Journalism requires that stories been constructed, facts be tied together, narratives presented, and context created. In short, journalism is the big picture.

“No one would argue that you can get the pig picture in 140 characters. But what about aggregate tweets? One person over a long time, or many people over a large subject?

“Is Twitter a viable, standalone medium for journalism?”

I think this quesion misses the mark regarding the nature of journalism. It confuses the package with the process. That’s understandable, because in the history of mainstream news, journalists and news organizations have often taken a “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” approach to revealing their own processes. When all the public sees is the product, it’s easy to assume that’s all there is to journalism.

Here’s the comment I left on his post:

Hmmmm…. I do journalism, and I know a lot of journalists, and I’ve seen what Twitter can do. It seems to me that any medium — from Twitter to broadcast news to smoke signals — has potential journalistic uses.

Journalism is a process, not just a product. For many professional journalists and other people who commit acts of journalism, Twitter is already an important part of their journalistic process (i.e., connecting with communities and sources, and gathering information). And it can also be part of the product (i.e., live coverage of events or breaking news, or updates to ongoing stories or issues)

So yes, Twitter CAN be a real news platform. As well as lots of other things. Just like a newspaper can be the Washington Post, the National Enquirer, or a free shopper’s guide. It all depends on what you choose to make of it.

And also: These days, almost no news medium is “standalone.” Every news org has a web presence, and many have a presence in social media, and also in embeddable media.

…That’s my take. What’s yours? Please comment below — or send a Twitter reply to @agahran

Live-tweeting an event? Set your hashtag UP FRONT!

I do a lot of live event coverage via Twitter, and I also follow a lot of events (especially conferences) via Twitter. One thing I’ve learned: It helps your Twitter audience immensely if, before the event (or at the start) the people tweeting it develop a consensus on the hashtag for the event.

That’s what Horn Group VP Susan Etlinger did earlier, for the PR/Blogger panel her company is hosting tonight. She’s one of several Twitter users who helped launch this hashtag simply by adopting and promoting it:

Susan Etlinger helps launch a hashtag by using it.

Susan Etlinger helps launch a hashtag by using it.

And here’s the fruit that this kind of coordination can bear: Check out the #PRblog hashtag

…So: what’s a hashtag, and why is this so important?…

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High Praise from Jeremiah Owyang

For years and years I’ve followed the work of Jeremiah Owyang, one of the brightest online and social media strategists around. (Currently he works for Forrester Research). We had a chance to catch up a bit at Denver’s Thin Air Summit this past weekend, where he gave a top-notch presentation on the The Future of Media in the New Social Era.

So yesterday I was thrilled to see Jeremiah tweet:

High praise from someone I respect mightily

High praise from someone I respect mightily.

Wow! And that’s coming from a blogger who always, always teaches me something! I’m thrilled he’d recommend my blog to his more than 15,000 Twitter followers! Thanks, Jeremiah.

Beat journalists: Best online tools?

Today, Milwaukee Sentinel art & architecture critic Mary Louise Schumacher put out this video call on Seesmic asking beat reporters to recommend their favorite online tools:

Beat Bloggers: Lend us your tips!

Please respond to her post!

Here’s my response, where just off the top of my head I recommend geotagging & geodata (especially for environmental reporters), Twitter, Delicious, Flickr, and social media in general:

Re: Beat Bloggers: Lend us your tips!I recommend geotagging, twitter, soc. media in gen., delicious, Flickr. And that’s just what I could think of quickly! Here’s my post on Twitter basics for journos: http://snurl.com/57ufw.

And here’s David Cohn’s

Re: Beat Bloggers: Lend us your tips!

Weirdness with Delicious daily blog post: Other options?

For a long time, I’ve been using the Delicious daily blog post feature to syndicate to this site the  interesting stuff I’m saving and sharing via the popular social bookmarking service Delicious.

Since the recent Delicious upgrade, that service has had some issues.

First, that daily blog post stopped working for me entirely until I looked through the Delicious documentation and learned I now had to run the Postalicious plugin to continue making that feature work with WordPress. No biggie, I installed it.

Postalicious gave me a lot of new options for configuring that daily blog post.  I experimented with them. One option I liked was the ability to change the default title supplied to that post. Also, I temporarily changed my posting interval to hourly (so I’d show more posts with fewer links each), but decided I didn’t like that so today I switched it back to daily.

But today, I’m wondering whether Delicious has stopped working with Postalicious. Today’s links post is back to running the standard head Delicious supplied before: “Links for [DATE] (delicious.com)” I’m not happy with that heading, but right now I don’t seem to have the ability to change it.

I checked the Delicious support forum, where users are discussing the changes to this service. I noticed this interesting post from Britta of Delicious, regarding their future strategy for this service…

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FriendFeed for Backup LiveTweeting

I’m using a new FriendFeed account, amylive, as a backup for my live coverage in case Twitter fails (which happens).

I’m here at the last day of BlogHer 2008 in San Francisco, where I’ve been covering live coverage of some sessions via my amylive account on Twitter. (Many other attendees have been tweeting about the conference, too.)

My amylive Twitter account is separate from my regular agahran account — because when I’m doing live coverage the tweets come fast and furious, in a way that’s overwhelming and annoying to people who aren’t interested in the event.

Trouble is, Twitter is prone to abrupt failure. Yesterday it went down during the morning keynote, which was a shame because some great things were said that I wasn’t able to transmit.

So I’ve figured out a backup plan: Friendfeed, which seems to have more reliable up-time than Twitter.

Here’s my strategy so far. Tell me what you think…

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