General ramblings

Media’s Role in Mumbai’s Terrorist Attacks

I’m getting a little sick in the stomach, seeing Mumbai terror attacks coverage on CNN. Most of the times, their news is “stale”, in comparison to the news posted on Twitter.(Just search for #Mumbai). Citizen journalism is turning out to be more comprehensive, well-timed and exhaustive compared to traditional media. Lots of articles on the net that are talking about the power of twitter and bloggers. Lots of bloggers like Arun Shanbag, Vinu etc. have come into limelight because of their responsible journalism- they care for you and me. News channels cover these events only for their own good, to increase their TRP ratings etc.

I have only been a moderate user of Twitter- a couple of tweets here and there. Nothing more. This incident, however, has changed the way I feel about Twitter. It has the potential of becoming a stronger force to reckon with. A force fueled by ordinary people like you and me.

I came across a nicely put Google spreadsheet that has the list of people who are either injured/dead. My eyes welled up with tears. Two of my friend’s friends at Leopold Cafe and another friend of my friend’s younger brother, who was interning as a chef at Taj Mahal Hotel, were shot dead. I was speechless.

Of course, there are haters who talk about the side effects of Twitter and how lots of Tweets were only rumors. I have only one response to these haters- don’t news channels run their business based on rumors too? What’s new?

People have issued statements saying that “people need to tweet responsibly and stop airing all important news on Twitter; this can be used as a weapon etc”. I understand how this can be dangerous, but complainers need to find a way to deal with it! Restricting the use of social networking sites is tantamount to taking away our freedom of speech.

How many citizens sitting in the comforts of their homes and tweeting away to glory have actually done something (donated blood, tried to find information for people who are yet to hear from their loved ones etc.) is questionable. And I’m sure there are others who think this is a great party and a trendy topic to talk about. Leaving such people aside, I do hope that some good comes out of it.

Related Reading: In Mumbai, Bloggers and Twitter Offer Help to Relatives

Shefaly’s take


16 thoughts on “Media’s Role in Mumbai’s Terrorist Attacks

  1. My deepest condolences of the demise of your acquaintances. I am speechless, watching the tragedy in Mumbai unfolding.

    I second your point on Twitter, social networking, freedom of speech and citizen journalism. It’s “unedited” media coverage, and for Indians like us living abroad, we rely a lot on ethical media outlets. Unfortunately, this is not the case displayed in the news networks across the globe.

    I am also closely monitoring twitter and coverage from the 2 above-mentioned bloggers and the blogosphere.

  2. Ruhi

    Thanks for the hat tip. The blogosphere is turning analytical and refletive slowly, and I am hoping we can now leverage the momentum generated by #mumbai to bring about grassroots change in citizenship in India with Indians in India and abroad doing their bit. Many of my London based friends are working to this end too. Hoping to convene something soon and get working…

  3. It’s interesting to see how the whole thing developed on Twitter.

    But I don’t really understand the CNN article – do they believe everything that people write on their blogs? Do they believe everything people say in conversations? Everything on TV? I don’t think so. So why expect Twitter to be different than all the other media – completely honest, well researched, unbiased etc. It just doesn’t work that way. And if you don’t expect any different and take everything with a grain of salt and don’t stop thinking for yourself, there’s no problem.

    And also – quote from the article:
    “As Twitter user ‘naomieve’ wrote: ‘Mumbai is not a city under attack as much as it is a social media experiment in action.'”
    Why I see what they’re getting at – basically what you’re saying in your article – I think that’s a very problematic formulation. Mumbai is under attack AND spawned a social media experiment in action.
    Saying that they’re mutually exclusive, like that sentence makes you believe, belittles the tragedy taking place, imo.

  4. Kalfudra

    It was not a social media experiment. Social media became a tool to effect important stuff. If you go and check the #mumbai on Twitter, you can identify when rumours started swirling. (Hint: It was when the majority in India woke up; remember most people were in bed, when it all started, what with it being a mid-week night). Maintaining plurality, diverse plurality is a major problem in any system. The system did self-correct.

    And frankly if you see some of the mainstream media coverage by reporters with bloated egos, and questions to released hostages like ‘were you afraid? were you praying?’, I mean please… They get paid for this ‘reportage’?

  5. “How many citizens sitting in the comforts of their homes and tweeting away to glory have actually done something (donated blood, tried to find information for people who are yet to hear from their loved ones etc.) is questionable”

    I thought the same.
    My condolences for your acquaintances. May their souls rest in peace.

  6. True, the media is over doing a lot of things and some of their coverage is irresponsible but why I like to see them is off and on they talk to police and security officials and one can get a sort of summing up of what’s happening. I don’t need to see the thing live. I find it too disturbing.Also they have interviews of people at times, but ofcourse one also goes online to find out some things one might have missed.

  7. @Shefaly:

    You’re preaching to the choir here. I’m totally in favour of the twitter/blogging reporting, as it adds a lot of depth to the events – depth it would lack were it only for the more conservative ways of reporting.

    As for the social media experiment – I myself wouldn’t have called it that. Ever. For me, it isn’t an experiment but a further evolution of what especially twitter, but also other social media can do and can become and is already.
    But as the phrase was mentioned in the article, I stuck with it. Sloppy writing, maybe, but it was to get the point across that the formulation of that particular tweet is problematic for me.

    And you said: “Maintaining plurality, diverse plurality is a major problem in any system. The system did self-correct.”

    Yes, it can be a problem. Definitely. But where would we be without diverse plurality?

  8. Its about responsible journalism.Its about helping people and providing correct information to people and not anything that create panic.Its not about taking undue claims that this channel is show this at teh earliest.When people are dying and terror struck,its really pity seeing news channels compete for TRP ratings.

    Do read my blog at

    for my viewpoint on terrorism.YOur comments will be appreciated.


  9. with power comes responisiblity …
    thats apt at these situations ..
    and now that= it has been proved that cyberworld was used quite effecitvly for these attacks ..
    we need to be more careful

  10. I haven’t followed much of what they were showing on television because I was in office most of the time. I followed it via internet. But imagine coming home and watching those horrifying images on tv. It was a nightmare.
    My Bua’s husband works in Oberoi. He had a morning shift the next day and hence left early that day, before it all started. We were so damn worried.

  11. Pingback: Terrorists’ Best Friends - News Channels |

  12. @Kalafudra

    I wasn’t preaching to you but you did see the bit of your comment I responded to. In your words: “As for the social media experiment – I myself wouldn’t have called it that. Ever.”. So, done? 🙂

    As for plurality, it is a definite problem when all it does is make life an ongoing ‘talking shop’. Plurality can become an excuse for all talk and no action. Alas, that was how the tweets became rumour mills. People just had to talk. Everything, incl plurality, is good in moderation but not as its own reward.

  13. @Shefaly:

    I didn’t mean to say that you were preaching, just that I was on the same page with you. So, done! 🙂

    And I also agree that plurality, like everything else, should come in moderation. At some point, it just doesn’t help anymore. It’s only difficult to find that point.

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