|Cell Phones Change The World |
August 16, 2011: Journalism is increasingly all about cell phone cameras, and sending picture and video files anywhere in the world via that hand-held computer. While the U.S. effort to help people in dictatorships (China, North Korea, Cuba and so on) get access to uncensored news and communications has helped, it’s the milder dictatorships (most of Africa and the Middle East) that benefit from cell phones and the Internet just as they are. The high end dictatorships (China, North Korea, Cuba, Iran, Syria) have professional security forces that lock down all forms of communication, not just cell phones and the Internet. These efforts often work, and the coalition of hackers worldwide, and U.S. government cash, is helping to even the fight. But so far, the secret police are still in the lead. Meanwhile, the milder dictatorships are too poor, or too weak, to do much more than censor print, radio and TV. The Internet and cell phones (especially texting) are left alone. And this is where popular journalism has revolutionized how the news gets collected and distributed. In effect, everyone with a smart phone (that has a camera capable of taking pictures and videos) can be a journalist. And many are. In poor countries, most Internet users access the web via their cell phones. They also access social networking sites (like FaceBook), where groups of these amateur journalists connect with each other, and those in foreign countries who can handle posting embarrassing (to the local government) videos and pictures in FaceBook, or any other web location where people will see it. Using their cell phones, the web location of useful (and uncensored) news quickly gets around. This not only drives the dictators nuts, it is increasingly driving them out of power.
This citizen journalism is also forcing the mainstream media (whether government controlled or not) to move faster, and with more accuracy and honesty. Thus did two inventions, the cell phone, and cameras as part of cell phones, radically change how news was gathered and distributed. These new developments also made it more difficult for dictators to stay in power.