Relaciones Internacionales – Comunicación Internacional

Social media and the changing face of conflict reporting

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Posted: 14 July 2016 By:

Can livestream video and eyewitness media ever replace the foreign bureau? A look at how media reporting on global conflicts is changing

When gunmen began firing indiscriminately at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport last month, British journalist Laurence Cameron was among the first to get the word out.

The message he posted to Facebook read: “Something kicking off at the airport here in Istanbul, mass panic, people shouting about bombs. Rumours of an attack.”

Dozens of people died in the shooting and subsequent bombing, though Cameron managed to escape. His photographs of the attack, initially posted to Facebook, were carried by BBC News, the Guardian, and NBC.

Cameron’s experience is just one example of how social media and developing technology have changed the way media reports on conflicts around the world.

Almost half (43 per cent) of the global population now owns a smartphone, according to Pew, and it’s never been easier for journalists to find eyewitnesses on the ground documenting breaking news in real-time via social media and livestream video.

And for journalists out in the field, social media offers routes to sources and stories in just a few finger-taps; routes that didn’t even exist 10 years ago.

“We can access stuff from all sorts of places all over the world now,” explained Kim Bui, deputy managing editor at

“That’s opened up a whole new world for our audiences – they’re getting news that they probably wouldn’t have gotten before.”

On the other hand, Bui noted the difficulty in offering comprehensive context around breaking news from the assignment desk, as opposed to being on the ground as events are unfolding.

She recently returned from a fellowship in South Africa, working on a story she had been researching from afar.


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