“A Smartphone in One Hand and a Rock in the Other”

Before doing this week’s assigned reading, I had some initial concerns about citizen journalism. The book addressed some of these questions in the very beginning, in the prologue: “can you trust reports from so-called citizen journalists who are also actively taking part in a revolution? How do you handle the onslaught of uncensored, graphic footage circulating online that in the heyday of mass media would’ve never seen the light of day?…is it even fair to call them an audience anymore?” (xiii).

Before the various revolutions, such as in Tunisia, the government was extremely strict and harsh. For example, as the book mentions, there was no free speech, press, or right to assembly, and the Internet was frequently censored by the government. “The Tunisian gov. made sure that news didn’t spread through local newsapers or television, all controlled by the state,” (5).

Most of my doubts about social media and citizen journalism left when I saw how tweets were being used to demonstrate the necessity for medical supplies as well as volunteers at the make-shift clinic, in addition to tweets being used to warn against life-threatening situations, such as hidden snipers.

“Yes, social media played a role in #jan25. But don’t call this the Twitter or FB revolution. Real people protested and died. It’s theirs,” (51). I agree that this should definitely not be overlooked. There would always have been protestors and activists who were brave and willing to fight, the technology just made it more widely available and advertised the cause.

Work Cited: Distant Witness by Andy Carvin.


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