Saturday, September 26, 2009

Mobile Journalism from Pittsburgh

Last night, a girl who went to high school with me, now attending Pitt, posted a Facebook status update which unknowingly began a small research project on my part. She was simply saying that she received an emergency text message from her university stating, “Conditions may be deteriorating in Oakland. Students are advised to remain near their residences.”

This Facebook post, sent from her phone, was the most recent update I could find online anywhere. The fact that the University sent this message about “conditions deteriorating,” I figured it wasn’t good. Online journalists hadn’t written as of yet about the crowd situation at night. The text peaked my interest, and I stayed by my computer to see who would be next to report.

Of course, I’m sure the newscasters in Pittsburgh were reporting, but I was not in Pittsburgh.

I was not in a classroom at Virginia Tech hearing gunshots.

I was not on the streets of Iran watching an innocent woman die.

As professor Bob Vucic is known to say, “If you have a Blackberry, you are a journalist”. The girl in Pittsburgh was probably saying it to complain that she couldn’t go out on a Friday night, but she was a journalist. She communicated the first information I could find about what was going on in Pittsburgh last night. It came from a student who was warned by her University to stay out of the streets.

That is real time. That is real life, able to be communicated instantly to millions with a simple factual text message.

Soon, I was able to see a YouTube video which was made by simply videotaping the Channel 11 news in Pittsburgh. This video (linked below) showed Pittsburgh at night: protestors on bikes being herded away by police with riot gear. A girl throws her bicycle at a policeman and is taken down to the ground by four policemen. I want to thank the person who thought to film their evening news, to share with the world, and me.

Who knew that Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania would be the choice for the G-20 summit, and that many of the people I know would be able to watch the same type of aftermath that London, England witnessed due to the G-20 summit.

This is a 'thank-you' once again to mobile technology. We are only beginning to see its effects on society as we know it.

Video source:

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