Telling the story with your phone

When we were watching the news today my mother seemed to be quite offended.

She was complaining about the fact that so many people who were in such a tragic situation would decide to get their phones out and film it. I tried to explain to her the whole idea of citizen journalism, but she still didn’t seem to like the idea.

It’s similar to a situation which was brought up, I think, during the floods in Mozambique a few years ago. Some rescue helicopters carried cameramen — but this meant having space for fewer people in the rescue helicopter. So on the one hand you had the need to tell the story; to have these momentous events recorded. But on the other hand it meant rescuing people more slowly.

While filming on your phone on the tube might not be putting lives at risk like that, I can see why some people would maybe rather not have such a distressing episode of their lives recorded.

What do you think? If you were in a terrible situation would you like somebody poking their phone around and filming it all?

I don’t know how I’d react if I was stuck on a bombed underground train. But sitting here at the computer I say, “sure, why not?” A picture speaks a thousand words, so they say. History needs to be recorded. If there are no professional journalists around, then why not record it on your phone? The reporter on the Six O’Clock News also seemed to suggest that the recording contained vital information which was previously unknown.

Look at these Canadian front pages. Both feature photos taken on mobiles. One of them even photographs somebody else who looks like they might be taking a photograph with their mobile. Is there anything wrong with that?

It comes down to this: do you want the story to be told or not?

Slightly related, Media Guardian says that yesterday weblogs proved their worth.

This pledge, started by The Sharpener, also seems to be gaining a lot of steam.


  1. I do agree with you: the whole blogging community and the phone-photos were very important in yesterday’s news. It makes the news accessible and maybe even more personal to the people at home, and it shows what is going on with the people involved. So I have no problems with it either.

  2. Absolutely – not many people would disagree in extreme circumstances such as these.

    The wider issue of people using camera phones to take pictures of people without their knowledge is still an issue though – especially with all of this “happy slapping” nonsense.

  3. Interesting little snippet about those films from the tunnels in The Graun yesterday. Some psychologist said it wasn’t especially surprising: People attempt to recover some control over a situation that they have lost complete control over. Interesting, and I reckon probably right.

  4. I’m suprised I haven’t seen *more* phone footage – always out in public events there’s a million people all snapping away.