Iran’s eyewitnesses not “citizen” journalists

I have been considering the issue of elevating eyewitness reports – on Twitter – or elsewhere, to the level of citizen journalism. In fact, I have been doing extensive evaluation of this matter as the “phenomenon” occurring during the recent protests of the election in Iran has been generally hailed as technology advancing democracy. Thanks to cell phones and Twitter, citizens can provide “information” to a waiting world, no matter how hard a particular regime tries to suppress what may be taking place.

In theory, this is a good thing. It would mean that no government is able to hide behind a technology “blackout” which it might try to impose; and indeed in Iran, such was and is being attempted by the powers that be. Internet access has been successfully curtailed to strangle the flow of information in and out of the country. But the Supreme Leader did not reckon with the ability of great numbers of tweets to reach eager readers throughout the world, or cell phone photos and videos either.

This is all justifiably to be recognized as a step forward for humankind to be sure.  But, to convert eyewitness reports – which is what we are truly dealing with – into what has been dubbed  “citizen journalism” is a leap not to be taken lightly.

First, the authenticity of any given set of data, whether transmitted in words or pictures, is not finally subject to thorough verification. There is no standard under which the “reporting” is undertaken; normal professional reporting dictates corroboration through at least two separate sources for any bit of information to be considered credible and accepted for public airing. There is no oversight, or editorial scrutiny; in point of fact, one can question the source and origin of many of the tweets represented to be from Iran.

So what we have are eyewitness reports – an element often used by police and journalists in helping to piece together an incident or event; while a truly remarkable outpouring of verbiage and pictorial documentation, which certainly by its sheer volume and commonality of content, renders a “picture” of a government using totally heinous means to subdue an uprising over a questionable election, to raise these sincerely heroic efforts to get the word out to the world to the level of journalism is to reach too far and in the process to lower the bar for fact.

I have previously called attention to related matters in  prior posts which addressed the important concept of “truthiness” (see tag cloud). Truth, is not just “true enough”. The measure must be the strictest yardstick.

So while not diminishing the accomplishment of “the people” in sweeping away the “veil” attempted to cover the atrocities committed in the name of civil obedience through the use of new media and new technology, let’s not overreach, that would be to diminish the work of journalists throughout history who have indeed often risked their very lives to report the facts!

https://communicatorsandcommunications.com/2009/07/15/irans-eyewitnesses-not-citizen-journalists/

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Girl Scouts ban use of internet to sell cookies

A seemingly innocuous AP piece is being picked up by a number of newspapers around the country. It hit me like a ton of bricks. So I did a little further checking online, and sure enough it is true. Newsweek is my source and I have no reason to doubt the authenticity of its report. http://www.newsweek.com/id/188714?from=rss

Girl Scouts of the USA does not allow the use of the internet to sell its “got-to-have-them” cookies! This exposé comes on the heels of the welcome news that the Vatican has awakened to the value of the internet (See my recent post on this matter). Kurt Soller’s article states the key point to be made about this whole imbroglio:

“…the group’s digital strategy seems confused and behind the times.”

The Girl Scouts organization purports to offer the largest program to teach entrepreneurship to young girls and yet it eschews e-commerce. Seems kind of like an oxymoron to me (ox-y-mo-ron) with emphasis on the last two syllables!

https://communicatorsandcommunications.com/2009/03/15/girl-scouts-ban-use-of-internet-to-sell-cookies/

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Vatican gets prodded into New Media age

An interesting piece in the traditional media – namely the New York Times – appeared today: Rachel Donadio’s aptly titled article, “Pope Admits Online News Can Provide Infallible Aid”. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/13/world/europe/13pope.html?_r=1 

The report contains quotes from the Vatican’s letter regarding the very controversial matter of the decision to revoke the excommunication of four bishops, including this excerpt:

“I have been told that consulting the information available on the Internet would have made it possible to perceive the problem early on,” Benedict wrote. “I have learned the lesson that in the future in the Holy See we will have to pay greater attention to that source of news.”

 

https://communicatorsandcommunications.com/2009/03/13/vatican-gets-prodded-into-new-media-age/

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