Tag Archives: video

The search for Japan’s loved ones is on…thanks to social media

The issue

An 8.9 magnitude earthquake. Over 4164 people dead. Fears of radiation poisoning growing. 450,000 people displaced from their homes. These are the result of an earthquake that shook Japan last week.

The aid of User Generated Content

The only thing that has remained largely intact is the internet and has played a pivotal role in helping families find their loved ones since the disaster struck. It must be a horrific time for people who are desperately searching for family and friends, who have no idea of their whereabouts or even whether they are alive or dead.

The best advice is “to continue your efforts to be in contact with your loved one(s) using SMS texting and other social media (e.g., FaceBook, MySpace, Twitter, etc.) that your loved one(s) may use.”

This was the advice given by the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo to U.S. citizens in Japan in the search for loved ones. In the message from the U.S Embassy, people were also encouraged to use the Google Person Finder, Youtube Person Finder and the Red Cross’s Family Links website to try and find people.

Less than an hour after the quake, the number of tweets coming from people in Tokyo amounted to more than 1,200 per minute, according to Tweet-o-Meter. Click here to see people exchanging stories about their searches and experiences.

Person Finder is often created by Google during emergencies because it allows people to leave information about their whereabouts or information about a missing person. At the time of writing, there were about 158,700 records for Japan — more than 140,000 more records than were submitted to the last such site it set up for the victims of the Christchurch earthquake in February.

The Red Cross Family Links site operates in a similar manner, publishing a list of names with contact information of people who want to make it known that they are alive and people whose relatives have indicated they are missing.

Many of these status’ allowed people to get in touch very quickly. There were 4.5 million status updates from 3.8 million users across the world on March 11 that mentioned “Japan,” “earthquake” or “tsunami.”

The latest

Fellow journalists, you may be interested to know that the Japanese Prime Minister’s Office has created an English twitter page for people around the world (and of course beneficial for journalists!) The twitter account @JPN_PMO is translating from the disaster information account @Kantei_Saigai.

Is anyone following @JPN_PMO?
By Linzi Kinghorn

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User Generated content in media discussed at the NUJ Student Conference

I went along to the NUJ (National Union of Journalists) Student conference last weekend and managed to get in a question to the panel about UGC.

From left to right: Marc Vallée (photojournalist) – Heather Brooke (campaigner & author) – Donnacha Delong (VP NUJ) – Shiv Malik (investigative reporter)

I asked what they thought about user generated content in journalism. As an example of UGC I mentioned how the Guardian published MP’s expenses details, and asked readers to take a look and find any information that they might have missed. This is what each of the panelists had to say:

  • Heather Brooke thought it was impossible for just one person to go though huge amounts of data like the expenses information. She said it was a great idea to put the information into the public domain so that more data could be analysed faster.
  • Marc Vallée used the example of the amateur footage of when Ian Tomlinson was pushed over by police at the 2009 G20 in London. This event led to his death. The footage was sent to The Guardian newspaper who published it. He explained that this is a great example of how the media uses UGC to its advantage. He said that twitter is also extremely useful for journalists. They can find out where people are and what’s happening. It is used a lot by paparazzi to find out where celebs are.
  • Shiv Malik thought that ‘citizen journalism‘ and UGC are very important. But he believes there still needs to be a skilled journalist to put the story together. He said that without the journalist and news organization the information wouldn’t get transmitted to as big an audience.
  • Donnacha Delong mentioned that the police at the G20 summit were trying to keep journalists as far away from the protests as possible. He said that journalists were told to go away for an hour or risk being arrested.
  • Shiv Malik concluded by saying that user generated content is not a replacement for traditional journalism. It does however compliment and add important information to journalism. It also helps keep the police and government in check because anyone can publish online and become a part of news.

By Kirsty Malcolm @kirstymalcolm