13 July 2005
The first pictures from last week's London subway bombings came from tiny, high-tech devices--cell phone cameras.
Camera phone technology is not new, but it was the main source of the first images from inside the London subway system after the bombings. Passengers with camera phones helped provide the media with pictures for a major story.
Jonathan Taplan, a communications professor at the University of Southern California, says camera phones are changing the way news is covered. "As digital technology disperses -- look at the tsunami pictures, all captured by amateurs -- more people have access to these tools. More people have access to broadband Web and can get this video out there."
U.S. market research shows that of the 192 million cell phones in America, at least 30 percent have cameras. And the percentage of camera phones is higher in Europe--where the technology has been around longer.
Media experts say that having convenient recording devices is revolutionizing the use of amateur footage in news coverage. Some may say camera phones are annoying or distracting, but the London subway tragedy, like the tsunami pictures, show they can be used for serious purposes.