Mobile community reporting not simply citizen journalism

Is mobile community reporting simply citizen journalism? I don’t think so. It’s a way of doing citizen journalism, but it can be applied to other fields like advocacy, activism, grassroots project monitoring, and many other communication fields. That’s the essence of my presentation today in Berlin, at the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. The FES gathered media professionals, experts, and scholars from all over the world to ponder ‘online activism’ and the role of digital media in bringing about or fostering democracy.

I argued that community members, using the most ordinary technology (phone), could bring out the most urgent, but often ignored, issues and push to action on the part of policy makers and politicians. I showed a clip made by a mobile reporter in northern Tanzania, where primary school teachers used their pupils as labour in their farms. The video sparked action from officials, who punished the headmaster by transferring him to a faraway school. Is that a form of activism? Yes. And that form of it must be encouraged to unearth those unacceptable routines mostly coming from people with some form of power [like teachers].

It was a great pleasure to be on the same panel with Prof. Guy Berger, now Director for Freedom of Expression and Media Development at UNESCO.

Olivier_Ebert Stiftung