‘Haiti struck by a massive earthquake’ – the horrible news that broke down on me first thing in the morning. My computer screen was swarming with live updates, pictures, videos, fund-raising campaigns LIVE from Haiti. The Haiti Earthquake had launched a wave of sympathy, information and aid through social media such as Facebook, Skype, Flickr, YouTube and Twitter (and real time that too) No press, no radio, no TV – just pure technology and social media connected me to a catastrophe in some other corner of the world. With conventional communications either damaged or down, social media, connected via cell-phone or satellite-systems, took up the slack.
So what is so ‘different’ and ‘unusual’ about getting information and live updates from the internet and social media? Didn’t the same happen during the Indian Ocean tsunami and the Iran elections? Yes indeed the same happened and on this note I realized that all of us have started taking internet and social media updates and news for granted. I still remember the days when TV and Newspapers use to be the ONLY way we could know what is happening around the world and that too all passive – nothing I could contribute even if I had a strong opinion or useful information. This shift from traditional Journalism to a technology generated ‘new wave of journalism’ has changed the way news is delivered and dispersed forever. A silent but radical change has taken place – welcome to Journalism 2.0.
The technology I have been talking about is popularly referred to as ‘Web 2.0’, a widely used term which describes the ‘new second version’ of the World Wide Web. Web 2.0 is not a specific application or technology, but explains a noticeable shift within Information Technology to ‘user-generated content’. It can be well described as a people-oriented technology movement where the user is the king. From the microblogging site Twitter and the group edited online reference source Wikipedia to the social networking site Facebook, and even the giant search engine Google, all demand active participation and social interaction. The users no longer can only ‘retrieve’ information but also contribute, modify and share information.
The Web 2.0 revolution has given traditional Journalism a massive shock. As more and more people are going ‘online’ to get news, the roots of traditional journalism are weakening. Major news channels such as CNN even have a special section for user generated content. Journalists have started tweeting, developing websites and writing blogs why not? Journalism 2.0 is the future and they need to keep in pace.