Use Social Media responsibly: Nik Gowing

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Tvm: ‘Use Social Media responsibly and with responsibility’, these are the words of wisdom and caution from Nik Gowing, one of the most familiar face on BBC World News and the author of ‘Skyful of Lies and Black Swans’ in which he investigates how changes to technology is making institutions of power, from the media to government, more vulnerable.

Kerala IT News caught up with Nik Gowing, who was in Trivandrum today at the Hay Festival, for a chat on the use of Social Media. According to Nik, “A highly digitised and interconnected world is one that’s rapidly democratising power. The big media originally had an upper hand in news coverage but now social media is challenging the way the traditional media has done things. The main effect on the traditional media is the change in economics and the rapid speed at which social media multiplies information. We have to get a system in place.”

Nik spoke about how the BBC was flooded with user generated content (UGC) in the aftermath of the July 7, 2005 bombings in London, be it videos and pictures taken on mobile phones, emails or tweets. Today, there is a UGC Department which takes care of faster and smarter flow of information on events contributed by viewers. Of course, there are experienced journalists who vet for the authenticity and mediating the inputs.

He feels the use of Social Media should be compliant with regulations and editorial policies (in the case of journalists). “But keep personal views to yourself. I am a rare user of Twitter and Facebook. Tweeting can take up time and at this point for someone like me with public responsibility, it’s a risk. This is not because I don’t like it but since I am answerable to it. You cannot resist them”. “Social Media is allowing us to set into places where the traditional media wasn’t allowed. There are several instances where mobile phones have captured what news crews couldn’t”, he adds.

On technology and mobile penetration, he commented that even in India it’s common to see people with couple of mobile phones. 2, 2.5, 3 G – the numbers don’t matter. What matters is whether you are connected anytime anywhere with a reasonable bandwidth. The proliferation of bandwidth in four dimensions will determine the future of any country.

On a personal note, this is Nik’s second visit to Kerala, the first one being in 2004 for 24 hours and today, for seven hours. “I love doing the job and I am doing what I like”, on being asked about his anchoring. “Knowing the answers to the questions before you ask them and understanding what the people want to hear, is the key to such a long and cherished career as the main presenter on BBC World”. 

Anil Philip
Kerala IT News

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