Archive for June 22nd, 2009

How citizen journalism may be changing the world right now

June 22, 2009

This post is prompted by longtime Crisisblogger reader and commenter Jimmy Jazz. Mty head has been buried in work lately and I missed the story about the killing of the Iranian woman now known around the world simply as Neda.

As Jimmy pointed out in an email to me, this event of the Iranian protests fueled by worldwide outrage over the murder of an apparently innocent young Iranian woman by the government forces, may have a lasting impact on our world and the world of crisis communication. The Iranian election protests are making one thing very very clear–social media is a driving force in global politics as it is in crisis communication. But this event also shows something else that has been discussed here at length: the role of the citizen journalist.

Nearly every cellphone has a camera and nearly every person carries a cellphone. If something happens, it doesn’t take a journalist and camera crew nearby for the world to see it in shocking detail. I have not seen the cell video of the dying woman–I don’t need to see it to understand its powerful impact.

The telling thing in this BBC story about the protests and the Iranian government’s reaction to it is this: “The authorities are aware that everybody in Iran and throughout the whole world knows about her story,” he told the BBC. “They were afraid that lots of people could turn up.”

No memorial service was held for the young woman for this reason. Yes, we have become a global village. We do live in an age of transparency when what leaders do to hide only makes their wrongdoing the more obvious and odious. It will be interesting, and I suspect sad and tragic to see how the drama in Iran ends. But one thing is certain, their world has changed and one person with a cell camera will have proven to have made a stunning difference.

(Thanks Jimmy!)