B’Tselem and citizen journalism as a very serious enterprise

A brilliant idea:

In January 2007, B’Tselem launched its camera distribution project, a video advocacy project focusing on the Occupied Territories. We provide Palestinians living in high-conflict areas with video cameras, with the goal of bringing the reality of their lives under occupation to the attention of the Israeli and international public, exposing and seeking redress for violations of human rights.

The camera distribution projcet works with families who live in close proximity to settlements, to military bases or at the sites of frequent army incursions. Settlers daily harassing a family in Hebron or attacking farmers in the South Hebron Hills, soldiers invading Qalqilya, daily life in the village of Yanun… these are just some examples of the material filmed by over 100 cameras that we have distributed to families throughout the Occupied Territories. B’Tselem has succeeded in airing this material on major Israeli and international news networks, exposing global audiences to the previously unseen.

This is what citizen journalism should and can be.  Not to denigrate the efforts of cameraphonists recording weather disasters or planes in the Hudson, but the B’Tselem project takes it to another level.  And on a number of levels.  One being giving cameras to people who might not otherwise have them, and whose voices, therefore, might remain unheard.  For all the talk about the great democratisation brought about by the web, too many of its democratising elements remain yet out of reach of an unwired, rather than wireless, majority.  Another being the incredibly significant capacity to record aggression in real time.  How many times have we read stories of unpleasantness in countries far from our own and salved our consciences, to a degree, by assuming some bit of artistic licence, exaggeration, rather, by the journalist reporting it?  It can’t be that bad, surely, reasons a small part of our cornflake crunching brain; and on to the next page.  Seeing this stuff in real time does, like it or not, make it an awful lot more real.  Go.  Watch.



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