The Thai Coup – Another Blogger Scoop?
Daniel Cuthbert, a blogger/photographer at MetroBlogging, writes in the aftermath of the Thai coup about how bloggers again apparently beat the pros to the mark:
I myself noticed how few traditional news networks were a the scene at 11pm on the 19th, and it seemed that the news reports that were being delivered were being done by people in news studio’s and not ones physically there.
Blogging has changed the way the public now receives information. Gone are the days of waiting for the big guns (CNN/BBC/Reuters) arriving at the scene to give the report, now local residents take it upon themselves to write up what’s happening and post it on their blogs. In recent events it’s these personal accounts that lead to the news agencies referencing.
The London bombings on 7/7 saw the first initial reports coming from local bloggers who lived near to the blasts. In India, local bloggers were the first to react to the terrorist attack on the Mumbai train attacks and the public found these blogs more up to date with information than local TV channels.
Interesting stuff, and, if true, not a little scary for us old hacks. I was there for the last coup, which dates me considerably, but I do recall how we covered it: We heard about it from our local reporters who used to walk around with a radio in each earplug, even at weekends. We were out on the streets pretty quickly, armed with cellphones the size of wellington boots, but sometimes that isn’t the place to cover coups. Offices need manning, stories need writing, and those journalists who are on the street may not necessarily look like them. That said, I’ve read some glorious stuff about the Thai coup from bloggers, including from Daniel himself, and this extraordinary, and speculative, analysis from Scott Rosenberg at Monsters & Critics. Early on there was good stuff at Global Voices Online, too. And 19sep, Gonzo Journal, Bangkok Recorder, etc.
I don’t know what the long term implications of all this are. I think bloggers can outwit journalists easily, especially in the early hours of a big (partly) visible news story like this. But what happens when the story starts to run longer than a couple of days? Perhaps the answer lies with Reuters, which is investing in efforts like NewsAssignment.net, a sort of publicly sponsored investigative journalism project. Oddly enough, it was Reuters I was working for back then during the 1991 coup.