Comments on media coverage of the London bombings
By Charlene Li
I’ve been on a blissful vacation for the past week in the Sierra foothills, hiking trails, jumping into water holes, and eating tons of good camp food. And also, totally unplugged with no access to cell phones or the Internet. Withdrawal symptoms from RSS feeds and eBay auction depravation lasted all of about 30 minutes.
When I came home on Sunday night and started checking my personal emails, I noticed a short “We’re all right” email from friends who had moved recently to London. Odd, I thought – it was nice to know that they had survived the move, but that was over three months ago! Then my husband came and told me about the London bombings. We had had absolutely no idea that they had happened. We'd lost a friend in 9/11 and my first thought was "not again."
I then realized that I was in an interesting situation – I could experience a major news event “from scratch”, so to speak. My goal: to find out as much information as quickly as possible. So I sat for a full minute to figure out my information strategy.
First stop: CNN.com. Nice timelines, good photos and videos. I noticed that there were plenty of requests for stories, photos, and videos, but for the most part, it was company-produced content. There was a link to a compilation of emails sent in by readers. The most poignant – one pointing out that the bus bombing took place just 50 meters from a park where a statue of Gandhi stands. .
Next stop: news.BBC.co.uk. Great overview and also some fantastic compilations of comments, photos, and videos from witnesses to the attacks. At this time they are up to four pages of content.
But where are the blogs? Next stop: the blog/feed search engines. Only Technorati highlighted a special section they had developed around the London bombings. Lots of great links, but it was hard to shift the wheat from the chaff. One interesting link found on Technorati -- thanks to links contributed by Furl/Del.icou.us -- went back to the BBC...a story on blogs covering the bombings.
Last stop: Several of the blogs I found through Technorati pointed me to Wikipedia which has a very comprehensive overview.
Observations: Traditional media outlets were able to give a quick overview with great graphics, professional coverage, and good analysis. The people on the street perspective provided the personal connection to the fear, shock, and pain experienced by Londoners, while Wikipedia provided tremendous context.
Which one is the best? It’s like asking me which one of my children I love the most. Each news source has unique features that I treasure, and I couldn’t imagine my news experience being complete without them. My only wish – that the traditional news outlets would do a better job providing links to alternative sources so that it’s easier to get that comprehensive point of view. It’s likely that I will still begin my next intensive news experience with traditional outlets, but if Technorati and Wikipedia continue to do such an outstanding job pointing me to great resources, traditional media will soon find themselves with one less regular viewer.
Update: The original title of this post was "Getting plugged into the London bombings". Thanks to the comment from James, I realized that this was inappropriate, hence the title change.