When the story broke on the terror attacks in Mumbai there was much talk of news spreading through blogs and social networks like Twitter. Details of the siege were reported minute by minute by people who were there. There is no doubt that the rise in citizen journalism and the availability of these channels has provided a new layer of news sourcing where information comes fast and direct.
It was the medium of radio however that brought the events into vivid and immediate focus. As the siege was taking place Jim Naughtie on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme conducted an extraordinary interview. Business lawyer Mark Abell was barricaded in his room inside the Oberoi hotel whist the murder and mayhem was taking place. “As I entered my room there was a massive blast …and the gunfire has been going on throughout the night” he said, “there is no escape and we haven’t heard anything from anybody.” The immediacy and reality of the situation along with Mark’s stoic bravery was evident throughout.Mark escaped and was interviewed again on Today, 24 hours later. He described his release and the full horror of the carnage he saw when he was escorted under armed guard through the lobby of the hotel.
Radio can deliver insight that text or still image based channels never can. I have always been persuaded by the views of Gary Carter of FremantleMedia who argues that so called ‘old media’ are not replaced by new they continue co-exist. He argues “The only mass communication medium in history to have been replaced by another is the telegraph and …arguably, of course, the telegram was not a mass communication technology.”
We need to stop thinking of media in terms of “newness” and think more in terms of “richness”. We can be seduced by something shiny and new and but we must still celebrate that which we already have.