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9 Jan 2005

We, the media

Posted by Just a little unwell in General | 1:46pm

The bloggers, or the 'Citizen Journalists' - as the world likes to call them, have been of much help in the aftermath of the huge tidal waves that hit the shores. The SEA-EAT blog (scary acronym) must have helped thousands if not millions with information updates and most importantly, on how to help. That Google - the most popular search engine on the net, has linked it from its home page, should indicate how useful a resource the SEA-EAT has been and continues to be, in bringing together the kind hearts of the world.

There are so many lesser known blogs that are offering first-person / eye-witness accounts of the event and its aftermath, and there are others by persons who have gone out to the affected areas and are reporting first-hand, what they see and experience. Some blogs that I found useful:

India Uncut: A blog by Amit Verma, a Mumbai based journalist, who is touring the affected areas in TN along with Rediff's Dilip D'Souza - who also blogs about the tour in his Death Ends Fun. It is interesting to read both the blogs and compare, to observe how the same story gets narrated in two different ways. I found Amit's account to be more sincere, as DD's secular/liberal ideology that keeps showing up dilutes his credibility a bit. Nevertheless, both the reports, laced with their opinions/views, offer an interesting read that is more insightful than what one can hope to get from a newspaper or a news channel (that has to 'break' every 5 minutes).

Phuket Tsunami: An awesome account of the minutes leading to the disaster and its aftermath, by Rick - an executive with HP-Asia Pacific who moved into the disaster locale minutes before the tragedy struck and was witness to all the gruesome scenes unfolding before him for days together. As he writes, he confesses feeling guilty about it, as he did not suffer any loss, but was only there to see the heart-rending scenes. A comment in response: "Keep writing, Rick. Writing is dealing". So true!

Chiens Sans Frontiers: Translates to 'Dogs without boundaries', the CSF blog is maintained by a team of journos touring the affected regions. The accounts from Nicobar highlighting the administration apathy that prevails there are quite disturbing. We do have a lot of communities / regions in the country that did not have cultural links with the mainstream Indian populace, but are now a part of us due to various historic events. If these regions continue to be treated like 'colonies' by an imperial centre, we may see many more separatist movements. It is amazing how we do not have a clear picture on the real situation in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands (the Indian territory most impacted by the tsunami) - despite being a democracy and having a 'free press' for the last over 60 years.

Even in the past, we had that lone Baghdad blogger reporting from the scene during Iraq war. Obviously, he was no match for the media muscle and the 'embedded journalists' of the 'Civilized West', but was nevertheless widely read by people of the world, who wanted more than the media spin that was being churned out. And dating back to the World war II days, we had 16 years old Anne Frank, who documented in her diaries the scale of injustice perpetrated by the Nazis and their holocaust. She probably did (though using manual methods) what the tsunami bloggers do today and what the lone Baghdad blogger did - state the citizen's position, be the voice of the commoner. For that, she should probably be honoured as the World's First Citizen Journalist.

So what is it that makes the bloggers tick? Maybe the fact that there are so many of them (us?) offering a range of persepectives on a given event, giving a reader a wholistic view of a given situation? Maybe because a blogger is not supervised / censored / edited by a diligent administration / media bosses, resulting in a more spontaneous response? Maybe because a blogger has no compulsions to comply with, that his/her output personifies 'freedom of expression'? Whatever it be, the tsunami showed the usefulness of such a large community of contributors - when all other channels of information failed the public. The government sources relayed what they wanted the people to hear, the TV channels were busy grinding their political / ideological axes, while catering to their corporate ad-spenders...........  and it was left to the blogging community to report to the world, the happenings from a lay-person's persepective.

Current Mood: Thoughtful
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2 Comments | "We, the media" »

  1. By wool

    9 Jan 2005, 2:46pm [ Reply ]

    Who's a lay person anyway?! If your there witnessing/experiencing you're an expert. Ann Frank's Diary got to us years after the incedent... the tsunami/baghdad reports are reali time.Its not a profiteering newspaper claiming to be the voice of the people...Blogs ARE the voice of the people.But all the voices, coming in unfiltered, are kindof becoming a cacophony but then its upto you to sift thru all the verbiage pouring in from all directions.

  2. By Wool

    9 Jan 2005, 2:47pm [ Reply ]

    PS: Thanks for the nice list of blogs :D

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