The use of mobile technology has made India into the Model Citizen (journalist). In November of last year, gun shots were fired in theTaj Mahal Palace & Tower Hotel in Mumbai. The images of the terrorist acts were captured and shared via mobile technology. The devastation from the terrorist act transformed India into the model of how technology is transforming people into citizen journalists, adding a new dimension to the news media.
“The cameras and phones carried by people swept up in the attacks were not subject to any such rules. Mr. Shanbhag photographed one of the fires at the Taj hotel and the wreckage outside a popular cafe that was attacked on Wednesday and posted them on his Flickr stream. Some people transmitted video from inside the Taj hotel to news networks via cellphones. And reporters used cellphones to send text messages to hotel guests who had set up barricades in their rooms.”
It is no coincidence that India is the perfect case study for citizen journalism. There are over 400 million mobile phones in use in India, making it the second largest country with the number of mobile phones, behind only China but ahead of the United States. As the terrorist attack escalated, US news coverage was basically nonexistent as a result of major financial cuts on foreign news desks. CNN was the only major news network to have a reporter on the ground; thus, making mobile phones the best way to capture the images of the assaults.
Beyond the visual imagery, people began micro-blogging through their Twitter accounts about the events, using their mobile phones. Twitter uses a SMSes of the mobile phones and, with over 6 million subscribers at the time, it made Mumbai the perfect storm to cover for citizen journalists to emerge.
Beyond Mumbai, companies and news organizations can empower the citizens of India to boast about brands, capture images, report the news and have conversations within India. It is likely news organizations will create platforms like iReport.com on CNN and track stories through conversation on social media tools like Twitter. Channel V, the Asian MTV, has tried to mobilize young adults through www.myindiareport.in/.
Reuters is using mobile phones to provide a subscription service to farmers in rural India, where they can obtain a more accurate price on their crops by dispatching reporters into the region to report the right information at the right time to ensure success of what’s occurring with the global market. This sort of platform can level the playing field and spur economic growth.
What is even more amazing is the current infrustructure and the capacity for growth for mobile phones is still huge with only 35 percent of the market actually owning one. Social media and active citizens reporting the news is still in its infancy in India, but the potential is limitless with the number of mobile phones already introduced in the market place. Marketers and news organizations would be foolish not to recognize the potential to harness mobile technology to empower the people of India.