Wednesday, March 23, 2011

'Bearing Witness' From a Comfortable Chair: New Platforms Belie Old Dangers

"In a world where most people consume their news safely, perhaps in a comfortable chair on some electronic device, it is worth remembering how dangerous news-gathering has become. . . .

"News flows so freely and easily these days -- on Web sites, on cellphone apps, on Facebook and Twitter and YouTube -- that it seems almost effortless.

"Getting it still requires old-fashioned courage and perseverance."

-- a New York Times editorial following the safe return of four of that newspaper's journalists from Libya.

In a related news story, the journalists -- Anthony Shadid, Lynsey Addario, Stephen Farrell and Tyler Hicks -- recount their nearly six-day ordeal. they also wonder about the fate of their driver:

"If he died, we will have to bear the burden for the rest of our lives that an innocent man died because of us, because of wrong choices that we made, for an article that was never worth dying for. No article is, but we were too blind to admit that."
Another example of courage and perseverance is the story of Mohammed "Mo" Nabbous, 28, "the face of Libyan citizen journalism." Last month, Nabbous started an Internet TV station in Benghazi called Libya al Hurra, or Free Libya. On Saturday, Nabbous was shot and killed.

NPR's Melissa Block and Andy Carvin remembered Nabbous on Tuesday evening's All Things Considered. Listen to their story to hear Nabbous's final report during an intense firefight.

Andy is NPR's social media strategist and our primary voice on Twitter, where he has become a discerning conduit for first-hand reporting by emerging online voices speaking from difficult places around the globe. The Guardian called Andy "the man who tweeted the revolution," but Andy would give more credit to others -- including Nabbous.

As someone who had "worked in the tech industry," Nabbous was able to cobble together "a live stream, using freely available tools and a satellite Internet access," Andy said. He added:

"Mohammed was a pioneer, but he wasn't alone. I think he helped show Libyans that they should feel free enough and safe enough to record their stories so the rest of us could bear witness."

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