Mobile phones transformed victims into journalists after the transport attacks in London as amateur photographs and video footage played a key role in newspaper, television and Internet coverage.

A grainy image of commuters trudging along darkened Underground tracks filled the entire back page of Britain's Times newspaper Friday while Sky News TV frequently replayed homemade video footage shot in the aftermath of the blasts.

Independent Television (ITV) sent out a mobile phone text message request to hundreds of subscribers to its service seeking any video footage of the events, some of which wound up broadcast, but most of which was of too poor a quality or too graphic to be shown. "Two years ago, the only place you got home video from was air show disasters and weddings," said Stuart Thomas, editor of ITV London News. "But now a large proportion of people in this country are carrying a camera with them all the time, which is just incredible.

"It's a great source that we'd be foolish not to tap into," Thomas said. "The best ones we had yesterday were of people walking inside the tunnels, where you would never normally have a TV camera when an event like that is taking place."

Amateur photographers played an even more critical role documenting Thursday's wreckage because tight security blocked news agencies from accessing the explosion sites.

Another reason news organizations are using more home footage is that the quality has improved dramatically in recent years. The standard camera on a European mobile phone has detail of 1 million pixels, three times as much as in early 2003. Many phones come with a flash now too.

Britain's public broadcaster, the BBC, received about 1,000 pictures by email Thursday, including one of the first dramatic images of a double-decker bus with the roof torn off taken by a passer-by.

"We get thousands of emails a day with emotional descriptions of events like 9/11 and the tsunami, but yesterday was a turning point in what we call user-generated content because it was the images that really told the story," said Vicky Taylor, editor of interactivity for the BBC's news Website.

The BBC was also one of the many broadcasters to show shaky and blurry videophone footage.

"The quality is getting so much better," Taylor said. "Given the situation they were showing -- panic and mayhem -- people accepted that it would wobble a bit and go to black sometimes."

Blogs, or personal online journals, supplied some of the earliest on-scene photographs and first-person accounts on sites including flickr.com, wikipedia.org and londonist.com. (Continued Here)

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