The Mumbai terrorist attacks: How influential are citizens in crisis news reporting?
Thesis DisciplineMass Communication
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
From Hurricane Katrina to London bombings and the 2009 Iran elections, citizens are increasingly making themselves heard in mainstream news reporting. This study explores the extent of influence of citizen sources on crisis news reporting through a pilot case study content analysis of the New York Times, London Times, New Zealand Herald and Times of India on the 2008 Mumbai terrorist incident over a one-week period, from 26 November 2008 to 2 December 2008. Findings from this study found a high proportion of citizen sources used especially at the beginning stage of the Mumbai crisis, indicating the small window of opportunity event driven news offer for a greater inclusion of nongovernmental voices. While the media continued to be cautious, using citizen sources more for their conventional roles as witnesses or victims with firsthand accounts, there were some clear traces of influence with citizen sources offering analytical and political viewpoints in the Times of India. Contrary to the belief in citizen-journalists being able to offer breaking news in news reports, its impact remained small. A first study of its kind to examine the extent of citizen source influence in crisis news reporting through a case study analysis, the findings from this study will significantly add to literature on the potential influence of government and citizen voices in the media and raise understanding about situational factors that will affect their influence in crises.