The Knight News Challenge Information Blog

Where Innovative Ideas Get Funded at NewsChallenge.org

Posts Tagged ‘Burma’

Down But Not Out: Burmese Citizen Journalism

Posted by Jacqueline on October 6, 2007

The brave citizen journalists, photographers, bloggers, and videographers on the ground in Burma may be partially silenced by the military junta government’s stringent censorship, but they are not totally quiet.  Instead, they’ve been forced to utilize more complicated methods to get the word out, like smuggling images in cell phones and breaking down files in order to send out them out undetected.

According to David Mathieson, an expert from the Human Rights Watch (quoted in this New York Times article):

“It is not clear how much longer the generals can hold back the future. Technology is making it harder for dictators and juntas to draw a curtain of secrecy.

“There are always ways people find of getting information out, and authorities always have to struggle with them,” said Mitchell Stephens, a professor of journalism at New York University and the author of “A History of News.”

“There are fewer and fewer events that we don’t have film images of: the world is filled with Zapruders,” he said, referring to Abraham Zapruder, the onlooker who recorded the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963.

Before Friday’s blackout, Myanmar’s hit-and-run journalists were staging a virtuoso demonstration of the power of the Internet to outmaneuver a repressive government. A guerrilla army of citizen reporters was smuggling out pictures even as events were unfolding, and the world was watching.”

Hopefully, the continued efforts of the citizen journalists and reporters in Burma will manage to keep the world’s eyes on their corrupt government – and that other nations will draw positive lessons from this situation. 

Do you have ideas for citizen journalists in places where the technological reach is small and freedom of the press is but a pipe dream?  Any projects that could help them achieve their goals?  Enter the Knight News Challenge and you could win a grant and make your innovations a reality.

Bonus links:

The Human Rights Watch’s Burma section – here’s a lot more information on the current government and the country’s recent history.

The NY Times’ The Lede Blog’s latest post on Burma – be sure to check out the comments and the reactions from Burmese peoples and other reporters who have been there in the past few months.

Advertisements

Posted in Blogging, Citizen Journalism, General, Journalism, New Media, Technology, Web | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

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. 

Posted in Blogging, Digital Media, Innovation, Journalism, New Media, Technology, Web, Web 2.0 | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »