Posts Tagged ‘We the Media’

Regular people. Everyday tools. An influential voice.

Five years ago, Dan Gillmor chronicled the rise of an emerging social movement called citizen journalism in his book, ‘We the Media.’ The Internet was being used to disseminate information and it had changed the way we created and received news. Technology had given the ordinary man the tools to become a journalist, one with power—and global reach.

“The rise of the citizen journalist will help us listen. The ability of anyone to make the news will give new voice to people who’ve felt voiceless—and whose words we need to hear. They are showing all of us—citizen, journalist, newsmaker—new ways of talking, of learning.”

I recently read Gillmor’s book for a class assignment. I had read his book before. This time, however, it struck close to home. This time, I had witnessed first-hand what citizen journalism was all about.

The Mumbai attack was proof for me.

When India’s financial capital was under siege for 60 agonizing hours late last year, people around the globe turned not to the television or the radio for news, but to each other. Blogs and social networking sites like Twitter and Flickr buzzed with eyewitness accounts.

Photographers from Mumbai constantly updated Flickr with photographs of what was happening on the ground. Websites and blogs like Global Voices and Mumbai MetBlogs were putting up real-time information with helpline numbers, emergency contact information and even providing a forum for people to reach their loved ones with news of their safety. Twitter was an excellent source of real-time information during those grueling hours.

For information-starved people frantically trying to reach family and friends in Mumbai, while simultaneously struggling to process the impact of the situation, the social web had turned into a powerful force – one that traditional media could not compete with.

The voices that emerged that night were real. For me, it was citizen journalism at its best.

As I re-read Gillmor’s predictions for what news would look like in the future – in light of the Mumbai attacks – I was amazed at how accurately he had described what citizen journalism would look like today. “News was being produced by regular people who had something to say and show.”

Five years ago, Dan Gillmor was on to something. He had been right.

The lines had blurred.

The consumer was now the producer.

And yes, the ordinary man was writing the ‘first draft of history.’

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