The excerpt below is from a Neiman Journalism Lab article on Indian journalists and their use or non-use of social media. I was struck by the following paragraphs because of the connection to my previous post Why Twitter is Essential for Journalists in which i asked when the top brass of Jamaican journalism was going to start using Twitter, one of the most revolutionary new news-gathering tools available today.
The Delhi gang rape case prompted many journalists to use Twitter for updates on events and immediate responses from activists. To a greater extent than in previous protests, social media helped journalists keep a finger on the pulse of middle class India and get their immediate feedback on important issues. An Australian reporter said that “Twitter was really helpful to get a sense of the public sentiment and developments.” He followed the #delhigangrape hashtag, the official Twitter account of the Indian government, women’s groups, pressure groups, and Indian media on the subject.
Venkataramakrishnan, the journalist who found 140 characters limiting, nonetheless said that the protests have been incubators for social media sophistication in India. “Following the Anna Hazare case and the Delhi gang rape case, social media began to achieve a critical mass,” he told us.
Many journalists cited the importance of social media for background information. A journalist from The Hindu told us “I look at tweets by our own editor, editors from other newspapers, well known journalists such as Pritish Nandy [a columnist with The Times of India and the Hindi newspaper Dainik Bhaskar], Abhijit Majumder [editor of the Delhi edition of the Hindustan Times], and Saikat Dutta [a Delhi-based editor of the newspaper DNA]. I also look up tweets by television journalists such as Shiv Aroor [deputy editor at Headlines Today]. You get a mix of opinions from their tweets. Knowing these people’s perspectives helps me during coverage — but only indirectly…I rely on what I see when I am on the ground.”
Interestingly the overall thrust of the article I’m quoting is that in countries like India social media only reaches a tiny percentage of people and therefore may legitimately be overlooked. In Jamaica the number of people who have access to the internet and use social media via cellphones is much higher. Low internet penetration is all the more reason for media heads and top journalists to be au fait with the latest technologies so they can use it to inform themselves and their audiences who aren’t as well linked.