Monday 8 August 2011

London Riots: Social media on the frontline

Reporting of the riots in London at the weekend used Twitter, live blogs and other social media to keep up with and add details to the quickly unfolding story.

The Guardian has a live blog on the riots and its award winning reporter Paul Lewis used his Twitter account @PaulLewis to not only report the story but try and get claims of incidents verified.

Local paper the Enfield Independent ran a live blog and news reports as the rioting spread from Tottenham to Enfield.

Storyful combined tweets, pictures, maps and YouTube video to report the rioting.

Gordon MacMillan @GordonMacMillan, social media editor at Haymarket who lives in Harringay, tweeted on the trouble in Enfield and has posted a report and pictures of the damage in Wood Green on his blog at Brand Republic.

Kevin Anderson @kevglobal has posted on the Tottenham riots that digital journalists and social scientists should join forces. He writes on his blog Strange Attractor: "With the current interest in data journalism, this would be a great time to revisit one of the seminal moments of data journalism carried out by Philip Meyer in the wake of the 1967 riots in Detroit."

He says: "I´m sure that we´ll see hours of speculation on television and acres of newsprint positing theories. The Detroit riots showed that a partnership amongst social scientists, foundations, the local community and journalists can prove or disprove these theories and hopefully provide solutions rather than recriminations."

This is a tiny sample of the type of material that was available online for a story that broke awkwardly for Sunday newspaper deadlines. The only Sunday paper that splashed it on the front page and was available in my newsagent in North London was the Mail on Sunday.

The Express claims today that Twitter is being used to organise rioting across the country.


WhyCommunicate said...

Hi Jon great blog post around the usage of social media in the reporting of the riots. As a seperate piece we have posted on who social media is being blamed for causing the riots

Ryan Cavanagh said...

Hello Jon,
I've been reading your site for quite some time, and wondered if you'd be interested in a news story.

Chitika Insights just finished conducting a research study concerning the role of social media in the recent London riots -- and would be glad to share the data.

There's a graphical display too -- so your readers can see how the data relates to them.

What do you think? If you think it would be a good fit, contact me at and I can send it over.


Anonymous said...

social media I think there should be no line between the medium and the creativity. The more outlets you find for your creativity the more ideas you get for those outlets.

Maybe. Just another way to think about it.

But honestly, I had no idea why I would even start using Twitter, I just did it because so many other people were using it. And teaching myself to be productive on Twitter actually opened up lots of new ways for me to think about language.

social media advisors said...

social media have been a talk of the town everyday, such as new updates from big stars twitter.