Citizen Journalism in Myanmar/Burma: Tales of Conflict Writ Large and Live on the Web
Posted by Jacqueline on September 26, 2007
It’s tough for any news organization to report on remote corners of the globe, particularly one that tends to be fairly closed off to outsiders. Especially when it is a place like Myanmar, where the political situation is deteriorating and the threats of violence are escalating (A quick summary – an increasing number of protests and marches have beeing taking place, and the current military junta government has used deadly force against a peaceful protest that consisted of thousands of people, including local monks. The U.S. and the European Union have condemned the attacks). You can check out the country’s Wikipedia, which has been kept updated as to the current state of the nation, for more background on this story.
Enter brave citizen journalists like the ones who are posting photos on Flickr, videos on YouTube, updating Wikipedia, and generally giving the international community with an insider’s view on what’s happening. This kind of ear-to-the-ground preporting is especially vital in places where the country’s leaders are not exactly known being forthcoming to foreign press corps, to say the least.
You can view pictures of the protests on Flickr, here, here, and here. And if a picture’s worth a thousand words, video has to worth at least a million; therefore, you can check out clips on Youtube. Maybe this time, as Khengze from the Webs at Work blog says, the revolution will be YouTubed. He also writes about how the Burmese uprising is becoming a textbook example for future citizen journalists in Asia and elsewhere, particularly the developing world (for instance, cell phones with cameras are becoming fairly ubiquitous globally, allowing virtually anyone to document history as it happens and upload it to the web). In addition, he mentions Burmese born, London based blogger ko htike’s site, which has become a repository of images and breaking news gathered from a variety of sources.
Obviously the situation isn’t exactly rosy, (as freedom of speech is still curtailed – bloggers in the country have been arrested for posting images of the protests and related stories). However, intrepid citizens have been overcoming this block by emailing people like the aforemention ko htike or tipping off news services. They also use proxy websites like YouTube and Flickr, which have the additional benefits of bypassing the language barrier – the images of the protests hold universal meaning.
Kudos to the brave bloggers, photographers, and videographers who are working to make that there will be instant global ramifications of the current military government’s actions. Although there are indeed stringent censorship laws, Myanmar has slowly become more open to the outside world, and these people are definitely taking advantage of it by making sure that their government’s actions are depicted honestly on the international stage.
Have an idea or method to compile all this into one hard-hitting citizen news site or some kind of massive “report from the scene: Myanmar” newsfeed? Maybe you should enter the news challenge yourself.