Mobloggers show they are a forcein newsgathering

What
may well be the first published picture of the aftermath of the attacks
on Thursday appeared on a mobile bloggers’ website just before 9am,
writes Ian Reeves. It is no great shakes as an image – it shows people
milling about in front of a train station, with a police car and
ambulance in the background – but it appeared on a website at 8.59am,
filed directly from a mobile phone, along with the understated message:
“Big bang at Liverpool Street, and the station’s been evacuated!”

Its
author, known by the online pseudonym Greebowarrior, is significant in
that he represents a real new force in newsgathering – the moblogger.

An
unprecedented number of images used by both newspapers and television
news programmes were supplied directly or indirectly from the mobiles
of ordinary people caught up in the mayhem.

Greebowarrior – real
name Martin Purcell – is one of around 3,000 mobloggers posting still
and video pictures to a site called Moblog UK.

Another of that
number is Adam Stacey, whose picture from inside one of the stricken
carriages was picked up from the site by newspapers including the Daily
Mail. Like many mobloggers, Stacey chose to license his image in such a
way that anybody could use it Its co-founder Alfie Dennen, in great
demand this week as a TV pundit, runs the Moblog UK site more as a
“labour of love”, although he has plans to grow it as a business.

This
is the first time moblogging has played a significant part in a
breaking news story, and he estimates that upwards of 150,000 people
had visited the site on Thursday and Friday. The site has around
250,000 users – a figure comparable with some national newspaper
circulations.

So is this the brave new world of journalism?

Dennen
doesn’t think so. “I see it as a complement to traditional journalism
and news outlets,” he says, pointing out that mobloggers do not have
the skills or the responsibilities that journalists do.

“Mobloggers
are more focused on the idea of community and using technology to
really engage with other people than doing the jobs of journalists.”

But
he thinks that the technology will become more widely used and
understood and that digital delivery will overtake paper-based print
products.

“Traditional media will have to change too. This will be the next major step in publishing,” he says.

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