Posts Tagged power

Mohammed Nabbous, hero of citizen journalism

By Emily Fairbairn
Mohammed Nabbous died this week.   Described as “the face of Libyan citizen journalism” by NPR’s Andy Carvin, Nabbous, known as Mo, was the primary contact for many Western journalists. He documented the Libyan revolution from a citizen’s point of view, posting exclusive videos that revealed the violence wreaked by Colonel Gadaffi’s troops against rebels in Benghazi. He founded the TV channel Libya Al Hurra TV, and was killed in the process of exposing attacks carried out by Gadaffi’s forces during a supposed cease-fire. Roy Greenslade of the Guardian writes that Mo was “regarded as one of the few credible, independent sources of news and analysis of the rapidly deteriorating situation in the city.”

Mo’s death is therefore not just a tragedy for his family, but for the watching world as well. Work by fearless individuals like him is the only way that the rest of us will hear about the horrors carried out in the parts of the world that shut out the mainstream media. It’s an old cliche, but knowledge is power; we should be little surprised that Gadaffi’s regime wanted him dead.

When Mo’s pregnant wife Perdita tearfully announced his death on Libya Alhurra, she reaffirmed the importance of the citizen journalist and insisted that Mo must not be allowed to die in vain.

“I want to let all of you to know that Mohammad has passed away for this cause. He died for this cause, and let’s hope that Libya will become free,” she said.

“Please keep the channel going, please post videos, and just move every authority you have to do something against this. There’s still bombing, there’s still shooting, and more people are going to die. Don’t let what Mo started go for nothing, people. Make it worth it.”

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Japan’s earthquake and the power of the citizen journalist

Emily Fairbairn The world has stood transfixed as the tragic events in Japan unfold.  All over the globe people were able to see instantly the scale of the devastation, thanks largely to the amount of content being posted online by survivors.

Tweets from Tokyo hit 1,200 per minute as the tsunami swept the Japanese coastline, and YouTube is flooded with shakily shot footage of the disaster. In fact, so many videos have been uploaded that the site is collating them on its CitizenTube channel.

It is at times like these that the power of the citizen journalist is reaffirmed.  Only those at the scene of the disaster can truly tell the story, and thanks to the explosion of social media and new technology they can tell it better than ever. The last devastating earthquake to hit Japan, in 1995, was nowhere near as well documented. Now the world sees the destruction instantly and graphically, and what a sight it is.

Hopefully the shocking images and testimonials pouring out of Japan will help mobilise the aid effort as quickly as possible. In the mean time, the sheer scale of videos, blogs and tweets serve as a reminder of how much journalism has benefited from the rise of user generated content. How awful that it takes a disaster like this to do so.

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How ‘user-generated’ is Wikileaks?

Prince of controversy: Wikileaks' director Julian Assange. PHOTO: New Media Days


Emily Fairbairn
Wikileaks is undeniably the king of user generated content.  The whistle-blowing site, which releases leaked documents in an effort to hold governments to account, demonstrates just how powerful UGC can be.

Today, Wikileaks caused a global diplomacy crisis by releasing thousands of classified US documents. Revelations contained within the documents include that US officials were instructed to spy on the UN leadership, French president Nicholas Sarkozy was seen as a ‘naked emperor’, and Iran’s leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was referred to as ‘Hitler.’

Already the US government has insisted that the leaks will put “countless” lives at risk. Meanwhile, Wikileaks supporters view the release as a victory for transparency and democracy.
Read the rest of this entry »

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