The Center for International Media Assistance has just released its latest report, by journalist and editorial consultant, Jane Sasseen. The report traces the rise of crowd-sourced video and its impact on the international news landscape.
No longer do professional journalists have a monopoly on the footage that is shot and broadcast. Perhaps most importantly, in repressive countries where media is heavily controlled by the state or other powerful interests, the video revolution has destroyed their monopoly on what will be covered or deemed newsworthy.
Instead, the man or woman on the street has a powerful new ability to record what is happening around him or her. Citizens shooting video and spreading it through social media have become critical eyewitnesses in exposing government repression and abuse.
The report also examines challenges:
If the rise of video has created new opportunities and increased accountability, however, it has also created increased challenges for journalism. Much of the footage shot by citizens around the globe and loaded onto YouTube or elsewhere is of poor quality, with little context or clear narrative.
“We’re getting into totally uncharted territory when it comes to using these technologies,” said Eric Chinje, the former head of the Global Media Program at the World Bank Institute who now oversees communications for the London-based Mo Ibrahim Foundation, which supports improved governance and leadership in Africa. “We’ve got to weigh the greater good that comes from them, but we also have to be conscious of what the potential dangers are.”
FJP: In light of the recent video that’s sparked outrage throughout the Middle East, let’s look at this from another perspective. The report is an in-depth look at how new citizen video production is, particularly in the Middle East. Granted, the discussion is largely about video-as-news. But Chinje’s worries can point—by extension—to the fact that the culture around independent video production is very new as well.
In the United States, the culture around video production is born from a long precedent of free speech. That said, our filters for video quality, credibility, humor, sarcasm, opinion, and fact are well-developed. YouTube and the like have very much helped to speed up our process of developing such filters.
In the Middle East, the way media is received and has historically been governed is very unlike in the United States. In Michael’s words:
Little has been said that in the countries where protests are taking place the media is government controlled. Whether this is hands-on control or self-censorship, people consider created media such as The Innocence of Muslims as something that has some sort of “official” approval. There isn’t necessarily a First Amendment concept where anyone, anywhere can go out and create a trashy hit piece, preview it in a movie theater and then throw it on a YouTube.
And just as the region is acclimatizing to its newfound democracies, it’s also acclimatizing to, and creating its own unique culture around media in the era of internet.
That, perhaps, can shed some light on why some in the western world have trouble understanding Muslim reaction to the film, and lack of Muslim gratitude to the US.—Jihii
Read the full PDF.