Perception Is Reality

Who’s afraid of citizen journalists? – Chapter from “Communicating Disasters: An Asia Pacific Resource Book” « ICT for Peacebuilding (ICT4Peace)

Posted on: December 21, 2007

Who’s afraid of citizen journalists? – Chapter from “Communicating Disasters: An Asia Pacific Resource Book” « ICT for Peacebuilding (ICT4Peace)

This is perhaps one of the most interesting pieces of blog entries I have read in a while, and I would like to congratulate the author(s). I myself am looking forward to reading this book

The author of the blog (who is also published in the book) draws a small sample (although very important and insightful) saying,

Disasters are about resilience – how we pick ourselves up after a human tragedy and slowly return to normalcy. ICTs help us understand how we can help communities spring back to life after a disaster. They humanise a tragedy, the scale of which may be too large to otherwise comprehend. Citizen journalists, flawed as they may be as individuals, are nevertheless tremendously powerful as a group. They have the potential to capture, over the long term, a multiplicity of rich and insightful perspectives on disasters not often covered by the traditional media.”

This is all true when we humanize disasters. Disaster management and preparedness is more than an entity that exists reified of the social structure. What I don’t understand, however – and this gets a little philosophical, is that no tragedy has a scale which may be too large to comprehend. No tragedy, is larger than humanity to understand. What then, does the author mean when he states that the scale may be too large? That it is beyond humans? That it exists separately of humans? What I’m trying to say (and I don’t know if this comes out clearly) is that no tragedy is larger than humans, so what scale is the author talking about? What exists beyond rational beings? What is the underlying meaning?

Again, I do not know if I come out clear, but I hope the author understands and explains.

The author also briefly touches on an important issue (although in passing) in his blog entry about the “deplorable” conditions of media independence in countries like Sri Lanka. This may or may not be related to the media conditions in Pakistan versus media independence in the west. A word of caution to anyone who debates on the topic of media independence: take into account the social, historial and political context in which the media were born and given independence (if that) to be able to better compare and contrast between different countries. It is not sufficient to say that media in the West is free whereas in the East, particularly Pakistan it is under stringent, unfair control. The media in the west, particularly in the United States predates WWII and has seen a long history of changes and political scenarios before it has come to what it is now: a place where biases and hatred for others (whether fellow citizens or other countries) is disguised under the idea of freedom of speech.

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About the Author…

Born in Karachi, Pakistan in an Adventist hospital, I grew up in a city where on one side I experienced poverty and oppression, while on the other I had the good fortune of Tabish Bhimani being a member of an upper middle-class business family...more...

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