A few weeks ago, while I was visiting a city in northern Mexico, I witnessed some of the drug-related violence people have been experiencing almost every day: several bodies were hung from a bridge and a number of shootouts were reported throughout in the city. As if that was not terrifying enough, I was not able to learn about those events through the news media. Instead, like many people in these cities, I learned about them on Twitter. Perhaps even more interesting was the fact that a handful of Twitter users, many of whom are anonymous, have emerged as civic media curators, individuals who aggregate and disseminate information from and to large numbers of people on social media, effectively crowdsourcing local news. We set to investigate this emergent phenomenon by looking at a large archive of Tweets associated with the Mexican Drug War and interviewing some of these new “war correspondents,” as one of them referred to herself.
We get a lot of wonderful and interesting visitors here at SMC. Today, we had the pleasure of spending time with Jason Mittell, Chair of the Department of Film and Media Culture at Middlebury College.
SMC: So what brings you to MSR today?
JM: Visiting with Nancy Baym, and chatting to just see how things work here.
SMC: What’s the most fun thing that you learned during your visit today?
JM: You have a wide assortment of coffee-related products.
SMC: Ah, yes, our famous beverage bar! So, out of our many options, what was your drink of choice today?
JM: I had a double espresso, which was quite excellent.