Crisis Media Twitter — Snurb, 2 May 2011

Well – what a few weeks it’s been. Following the Eidos symposium in Brisbane and the Emergency Media and Public Affairs conference in Canberra, there’s been plenty of media coverage of our research into the role of social media during the Queensland floods and Christchurch earthquake. There will be more articles and conference presentations emerging from this work, too – but for now, here’s a quick round-up of the major news stories.

On the day of the Eidos symposium itself, on 4 April, I appeared alongside the Queensland Police Service Media Unit’s Kym Charlton and USQ’s Kelly McWilliam on ABC TV News Queensland to talk about the role of social media in the Queensland floods:

(Nice work on “the so-called ‘social media'” in the intro there – it takes some skill to make scare quotes audible. Ah, the old habits of belittling new media die hard… On the upside, they managed to film me tweeting – so the circle is complete.)

Jean also appeared on ABC News 24 the same day – but I don’t think there’s any archive of it, unfortunately. A few days earlier, she’d already participated in an ABC Radio National discussion on the use of social media during disasters – the audio is online here. This follows on from her previous appearance on the Radio National Background Briefing, in a show somewhat misleadingly titled ‘Mismanaging Disasters: a full transcript is here, and the audio is also online. Also in the lead-up to the symposium, Radio National interviewed me, too, alongside Kim Stephens from iDisaster 2.0transcript and audio here. And we both appeared in separate interviews on Radio Adelaide, too: here’s me on their breakfast show (actually recorded from the car on my way to the symposium – on hands-free, of course). Afterwards, some more radio work for us: I also spoke to ABC Local Radio Queensland, 612ABC Brisbane (where I got my numbers wrong, unfortunately – ignore the bit about the number of tweets per hour: the maximum we observed was about 1,200 tweets/hour), and 666ABC Canberra.

And then there was the print and online coverage, which went all over the place. My interview with  the Australian Associated Press was widely distributed, and there’s probably a minor research project just in studying how the message changed as different news outlets picked it up. Credit where it’s due – the story in The Australian actually kept most closely to what I said (no, really): that Christchurch’s repeated experience with social media during earthquakes had meant that New Zealand Twitter users were already prepared when the second major earthquake struck in February; NZ Stuff also got the story right. Some of the lesser lights of Australian churnalism, as well as – with some degree of glee – the New Zealanders themselves then turned this into the headlineQueenslanders to Learn How to Tweet from Kiwis“, and SBS World News even managed to insert a fake ‘quote’ from me into the title: “Kiwis ‘teach Queenslanders to tweet’” – oh dear… There was also a learning theme in another AAP story about the symposium, in which Jean noted especially how the emergency authorities are looking to improve their social media strategies during disaster events – that story made it everywhere from the Herald Sun to PC World.

Among the more detailed pieces were stories in Campus Daily, and especially a lengthy piece in The Diplomat, which provided a comprehensive discussion of the various natural disasters from the Queensland floods through the Christchurch earthquakes to the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, and also highlighted the role of social media along the way. And that’s following on from a nice piece in Fast Thinking Magazine, on social media especially in the Queensland floods. And finally, there’s the German-language interview about social media in disaster situations in Politik-Digital, which I’ve already mentioned in a previous post.

Phew! And it’s only May?

About the Author

Dr Axel Bruns leads the QUT Social Media Research Group. He is an ARC Future Fellow and Professor in the Creative Industries Faculty at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia. Bruns is the author of Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life and Beyond: From Production to Produsage (2008) and Gatewatching: Collaborative Online News Production (2005), and a co-editor of Twitter and Society, A Companion to New Media Dynamics and Uses of Blogs (2006). He is a Chief Investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation. His research Website is at, and he tweets as @snurb_dot_info.

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