Citizen journalism – a key platform for social change and community development
A panel at MOJO Asia 2019, the 1st regional mobile journalism conference being held in Bangkok, pointed out today (Saturday) that citizen journalists, using mobile phones, are important for social and community development.
The discussion on ‘bringing mobile journalism to our communities’ highlighted the need for connectivity between journalists and the communities they cover, the growing use of mobile devices by both, and the need for citizen journalism capacity building to ensure their stories meet established standards of accuracy, transparency and ethnics.
Ms. Camille Elemia, of the Phillippines’ Rappler, said that she has recently been working on a project called “social media for social change” to bring news and technology to communities by conducting citizen journalism training workshops around the country.
In the workshops, community members learn how to be mobile journalists using smart phones, how to ask the right questions, how to write and shoot reports and how to handle social media properly, she said.
She went on the say that, since the Philippines is a country prone to earthquakes and floods, the workshops also try to familiarise attendees with emergency technologies, such as the Agos alert map, to keep up with the latest situation and access real-time data in their areas. They also learn how to make social media appeals on issues that need immediate support, such as the “Save Mary Jane” campaign.
“Above all we make sure they know that no story is worth their life, and we advise them to report from their own areas, with which they are totally familiar,” said Ms. Camille
Meanwhile, Mr. Pipope Panitchpakdi, Thai PBS deputy director-general, said that mobile journalism has been playing a key role in social change in Thailand since the ‘Bloody May’ political turmoil in 1992, when mobile phones were the only communication platform that could cover what was going on in the streets at that time.
He elaborated that ‘Bloody May’ began a discussion about the need for a public television station that is free from state intervention. The debate resulted in the creation of iTV in 1995, which transformed into the Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS) in 2008.
Mr. Pipope said that Thai PBS is therefore committed to serving the public interest and is not in conflict with government. It has recently been trying to encourage public involvement in news making by reinventing a type of community journalism which focuses on making easy videos by community members using their mobile phones.
The community journalism network, or MOJO Thailand, was also established to provide training for citizen journalists so that they can speak up and voice their concerns from their communities, he said.
M. C. Rasmin, deputy chief of party for the Media Empowerment for a Democratic Sri Lanka (MEND) program, said that the program works on encouraging more young mobile journalists to play a greater role to ensure that they are ready for the future.
MEND created an exchange program, where young journalists from different news outlets take two-week turns to host their peers and conduct mobile reporting exercises that are free from influence, aiming to promote civil activism in young journalists.
Lastly, Ms. Sara Hteit, a freelance mobile journalist, shared her fascinating training stories for children and adults in the refugee camps in Lebanon where Syrian and Palestinian refugees live. She said that learning mobile journalism brings joy to the refugees and gives them confidence and hope for the future.
Ms. Sara taught ethical photo journalism to children and disabled refugees so they can tell their stories using the mobile phone and disseminate them via social media.
She said “this kind of mobile journalism helps their dreams come true and build their future.”