Bomb Threat in Guatemala and the Media

Guatemalan Newpaper Stand in Antigua Guatemala

Today’s front cover for the mayor Guatemalan newspapers (Prensa Libre, elPeriódico and Siglo XXI) will have the news about a man who walked into call center last night and held hostage 50 people for a little over 4 hours under the threat of C4 explosives and weapons. At 11:50 all hostages were released and the man was taken into custody.

As big as this tragic episode was, I did not learn about it, however, through the traditional media, no, no, no. Thanks to my sisters who sent me an iPod Touch for my birthday a couple weeks, I was made aware of the bomb threat and hostage situation through a twit from Oscar Mota who during four hours kept the information flowing in a punctual and concise manner. For those who don’t know, a twit is an up-to-140-characters text message, quite similar to SMS (short message service) available through telephones, but taken to the next level as a social media or community bulletin board thanks to Twitter and similar competitors. (I use Twitterrific on the iPod Touch to receive the twits of the people I follow.) Oscar kept up-to-the-minute updates of the situation by listening to the radio, browsing the web and watching television. At the end, he concluded that the traditional Guatemalan media (except for radio) had failed in keeping the general public informed; he even posted his conclusions about the failed coverage in his blog {ñ} DesdeGuate. For instance, all mayor Guatemalan newspapers were sleeping or not updating their websites with any information; he found the news note posted in El Universal de México and from there other mayor Latin American rags repeated the note. My girlfriend and I checked the Guatemalan television channels and except for Canal 3, nobody was covering the situation. Five hours after the initial twit from Oscar, he updated his blog to let us know that no mayor newspaper (except for a tiny note at elPeriódico) had updates on their websites.

I am glad to know there are people like Stephanie Falla with future projects like Periodismo 24/7, a proposed digital newspaper online (according to her twits); which by the way is a finalist on Exponet, the upcoming event about web excellency in Guatemala.

Back to you Manolo in our overseas studio in Toronto, Canada. Perhaps you can have LD, our field correspondent on site, do follow up story; what do you think?

© 2008 – 2020, Rudy Giron. All rights reserved.

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