Monday, January 21, 2008

The Violence in Kenya, brought to you by YouTube...

The protests and violence over the past few weeks in Kenya has been covered, to varying extents, by the mainstream news media. Already, thousands of Kenyans have been killed, and it's estimated that about 350,000 others have been displaced.

Here's a new wrinkle in the reporting: the role of YouTube in providing, not only additional video footage on the events taking place, but also a forum for people around the world to comment and create a dialogue based on that footage. As Google's Public Policy Blog reports:

Kenya's largest broadcaster, NTV Kenya, started a YouTube channel to broadcast news from around Kenya. Though Kenya's third-world economy affords less than 1% of its citizens broadband Internet access, NTV Kenya's YouTube presence has become a critical way for the Kenyan diaspora to connect with what's happening back home. The channel already has almost 3,000 subscribers and is one of the top 100 channels viewed in the last month on YouTube. The channel documents the death and violence, but it also broadcasts the efforts of the international community to rescue the nation from internal strife".

A conversation amongst YouTubers -- Kenyans and others -- has developed over the conflict there, and the National Democratic Institute (a global nonprofit that provides election assistance in Kenya and other fledgling democracies) has started a channel that documents the election efforts in Nairobi and beyond.

While the phenomena of citizen journalism and user-generated media continue to develop, this case also serves as further evidence of the market demand for supplementary media in both information niches as well as less-covered news stories.


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