Speaking at SAJA Convention 2011: Remembering real time reporting using my mobile

I have been invited by the South Asian Journalists Association (SAJA) to be part of a panel titled Getting the News Out Fast on 18th June 2011 at  Lerner Hall, Columbia University. I’ve experienced previous conventions of SAJA vicariously through the Facebook albums of many who have attended and been part of SAJA, like Vasugi Ganeshananthan. Sugi’s a good friend and the person who basically intimated to the folks at SAJA that I would be around in New York at the time of this year’s convention.

Though I have never met him in real life, for many moons, I have corresponded with  Sree Sreenivasan of Columbia Journalism School who I understand basically started SAJA off. It was Sree with whom I connected with when I started to do live updates of the erstwhile LTTE’s last air attack on Colombo, en route to the airport. It was a surreal experience. Sree very quickly set up a page on SAJA to curate the updates I was giving, and it because the country’s first and only reports as the situation evolved. I later collated all the reports and published them on Groundviews, just before taking off from an airport that had just minutes before, been the target of a foiled air attack.

It was the first demonstration in this country of how powerful a smartphone (I was on a Blackberry at the time, emailing updates to Sree and others) could be in the middle of a crisis, taking minutes from the first group update, to Sree contacting me from the US, to republishing my updates on the SAJA website and subsequent consumption by a global audience.

I hope my panel presentations and discussions go off well. The other panels also sound tremendously interesting, and I feel lucky to be in New York at the time of the convention.

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