Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Citizen Journalism in Syria...

Tracking the ongoing violent uprising in Syria has been exceptionally difficult. Syrian journalists have been threatened and arrested by the government, while international news organizations are, for the most part, kept out of the country.

In their place, Local Coordination Committees of citizen journalists have practically become the only source of news inside the ravaged country. These committees have been disseminating information to the outside world using the Internet - including riveting eyewitness accounts and often-gruesome photos.

To maintain an air of credibility, the way it works is that informants on the ground send information and the committees confirm it from multiple sources. A third group then translates the news into English and distributes it online. These local committees were just honored by Reporters Without Borders with the 2012 Netizen Prize.

Because the Western media had largely been shut out from covering events on the ground in Syria, it's quite amazing that any of us can still follow what's happening thanks to these cyberactivists. Reading eyewitness accounts and viewing recent photographs, knowing they've been confirmed by multiple sources, is truly fascinating. Everyone should take a minute out of their day and take a look.

It's unclear how much cyberactivism is ultimately going to matter in this case, given that foreign intervention seems increasingly less likely with each passing week. But sometimes just being informed is a social good in and of itself. It will reap consequences far into the future.
  

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