Mumbai Terrorist Attacks and New Media

The deplorable recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai have made major news headlines all over the world.

For Singapore, the attacks have hit close to home as they have claimed the first Singaporean life due to a terrorist attack. Many mourn the loss of Singaporean lawyer, 28 year-old Lo Hwei Yen, who was shot execution-style while she was at the Oberoi Hotel in Mumbai on her fateful business trip.

Discussions in cyberspace amongst locals about Lo Hwei Yen’s capture and her sad and untimely death played out since the time news broke about her capture as a hostage. 

We can only hope that more can be done to prevent such attacks.

While the attacks were still taking place, a different but altogether, hectic and frenzied activity was also taking place in the ‘parallel’ universe in cyberspace. Bloggers all over Mumbai were posting live updates of the situation, and this truly underscores citizen journalism as an alternative/complement/supplement to news coverage.

Some were uploading photos of the damage from the attacks on the luxury hotels, and many of these were also loaded onto Flikr. The micro-blogging site Twitter also saw a lot of intense action as Tweets on the attacks were sent – at one point 80 Tweets were sent within 5 seconds!

There were also reports of survivors who were trapped in the buildings getting information from their mobile phones and Blackberries – they were surfing for information, ironically, on what was happening in the very same buildings they were in, but were left out of (in terms of info received).

There’s a blog that collects all the social media representation of the event.

All this goes to show that while mainstream news would not be able to provide such comprehensive coverage in such a short time, the world got to know about the events in such a short time, and while they were unfolding too, due to the ubiquitous nature new media has taken on, and new media’s role in news coverage

And with that, globalisation has taken on a new meaning and added dimension.


Bloggers gain prominence

Governments are reaching out to engage bloggers, as they have come to realise that bloggers do wield real influence via their online presence and discussions! One agnecy invited bloggers to blog about their campaigns to ‘create an online buzz about a government-sponsored commercial on the family’. 

This happened two months ago at a special session organised by global public relations firm Ogilvy. The commercial depicting a single father struggling to raise his daughter eventually aired on June 21 — with the buzz the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) had hoped for.

The session allowed the bloggers to understand ‘how and why the commercial was made’ and the bloggers’ ‘heartfelt’ reactions online gave ‘policymakers and implementers a greater feel of how people really see’ the initiatives. 

Of course , it could work the other way, in that bloggers could have written negative feedback on it; but even then, that would have helped policy makers to modify the content. It’s important that such sessions have no strings attached, and that bloggers are free to write what they want, or not at all. Otherwise, the whole process could be seen as a farce, and both policy makers and bloggers would lose credibility.

The National Heritage Board is yet another agency who has been actively engaging bloggers. They have been hosting museum tours for bloggers and held a session recently for 40 bloggers at the Asian Civilisations Museum. In what it believes is a first among agencies here, the board is recruiting for an in-house “social media marketing” position, to cultivate relationships with active bloggers. Mr Walter Lim, its director of corporate communications and industry promotion said

As social media gains prominence, we do have a very high proportion of people, especially teens, who spend time online. It is critical that organisations look at how we can leverage on this growth.

Bloggers now appear to function as a “public relations arm” and the Government is recognising them as an important medium to reach the public, said Dr Linda Perry, a senior visiting fellow at the National University of Singapore’s department of Communications and New Media.

It’s a win-win situation. ‘For bloggers, what this all eventually might mean is a greater role in policy…instead of just blogging about what they see the Government doing’, they get to become active participants. 

And we don’t call this age of Web 2.0 the participation age for nothing.

Of course, all these beg the question of accreditation for bloggers.

Could such participation go a step further to include news reporting? Last month, the Malaysian Government issued press passes to about 10 online news sites such as Malaysiakini, but stopped short of handing them out to bloggers since blogs are often personal in nature. Press passes would allow bloggers access to Government briefings or press conferences, for example, and the access to speak to officials at these events. Said editor of The Online Citizen Choo Zheng Xi: “It’s better to bring them in and allow them to see things from the government point of view, rather than lock them out and they criticise without understanding.” … But one concern among commentators is credibility and accuracy – bloggers, after all, would largely not have journalistic training and their writing would not be subject to the editing process of the traditional media.

Associate Professor Ang Peng Hwa of Nanyang Technological University’s communications programme: “Unless they are prepared to have themselves held accountable (for their writing), I don’t see how bloggers can equate themselves with professional media.”

Well, what do you think? Do you think that bloggers being accepted as reporters could happen now or in the near future?  Do you think society is ready to accept the views of bloggers as being legitimate ones?

Read on for information on political videos and blogs and new rules for politics in cyberspace.

Dawn VS Xiaxue

There’s a mean storm a-brewing in the local blogosphere. Our two Princesses of blogs, Dawn Yang and Xia Xue have been at it.

They have been at each others’ throats, that is.

She says..she says…it’s all talk and now they are talking lawsuits and libel!

Bloggers’ spat: Xiaxue refuses to say sorry

By Debbie Yong

BLOGGER Wendy Cheng – better known online as Xiaxue – is not going to apologise to fellow blogger Dawn Yang. She was supposed to do so by Tuesday, the deadline set in a letter sent to her last week by Ms Yang’s lawyer.

The letter referred to allegedly defamatory remarks made by Ms Cheng, in a blog entry dated June 30, about Ms Yang. Ms Cheng, 23, had written, among other things, about the other’s entertainment and endorsement deals.

She also baulked at being compared to Ms Yang, 23, in a June 25 report in Chinese-language newspaper Lianhe Zaobao. The letter had asked for Ms Cheng to publicly apologise and propose a settlement for the damages caused to Ms Yang.

‘I am not going to apologise. If she wants to embarass herself she can go ahead and sue me’, Ms Cheng told The Straits Times on Tuesday.

She is presented by Keystone Law Corporation.

Ms Yang is in Sydney on a holiday and could not be reached for comments. Mr K Anparasan from KhattarWong, the firm representing her, confirmed that he has received Ms Cheng’s letter but said he has yet to discuss the next step with Ms Yang.

However, he added that they will not rule out other options besides going to court, such as mediation or a ‘without prejudice’ meeting between both parties to settle the dispute.

This means that points raised in the meeting will not be used adversely against them in court.

The bad blood between the two bloggers goes back to November 2006, when they were compared in an online ‘hottest bloggers’ ranking.

They have been making comments about each other on their blogs since.

Ms Cheng gets 50,000 hits daily on her blog while Ms Yang gets 30,000.

Source: Straits Times Interactive,

And look at the number of people talking about them!! This is just the tip of the iceberg ( about the frosty chilliness between the two of them)

Well, frankly, while I’ve highlighted the two of them here, as their case does bear some mention as a lawsuit between bloggers could spell some legal consequences for all other bloggers, I’m not going to comment on the situation. Too much ink (of the electronic type, of course) has been spilt on it already.

Costly mistake by Malaysian PM for ignoring the Internet and bloggers

Malaysian PM Abdullah Badawi admitted that he underestimated the power of the Internet in garnering political support, in the follow-up to the biggest loss of political power for the ruling party of Malaysia. He felt that this was a costly mistake and that his party had lost the Internet war.

Due to being ignored by mainstream media, the opposition parties took their campaigning online through blogs and websites.

The recent elections in Malaysia show how the Internet could be galvanised as a political tool. “The Internet definitely played a role in getting young people to vote,” said 25-year-old Michelle Gunaselan, a founding member of online electoral education group VotED. Many young people are now generally more hopeful about their political future, and more interested in the politics of the land, given the Internet’s ability to engage them.

The ruling party is now more open to bloggers and also using new media to reach out to the masses. However, some of the opposition members are not convinced and remain sceptical. It remains to be seen how the ruling party will use the Internet and other online means to win back the political war.

Hm…do you think Singaporeans will take to the Internet for political issues, like the Malaysians?