Even though, Basil died last December, here is my tribute to him and I hope you will join me. In honour of citizen journalists everywhere in the world, I am officially requesting all of you to join me as I am planning to open a foundation to provide assistance to Citizen Journalists and their families (email me at firstname.lastname@example.org), as they aren't protected by professional organizations, they do it because they feel it is a duty to report the attrocities they witness everyday. They normslly do not become a Journalist by choice, they are forced to practice journalism by the circunstances. And according article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights there is a protected right of all people to “seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”. (http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2011/sgsm13536.doc.htm).
There has been many discussions, misunderstandings and a certain antagonism by "professional journalists" against citizen journalism and citizen journalists. If on one hand, academics and professional journalists, have the right to be concerned about unemployment and sometimes unfair replacement by citizen journalists, it doesn't help to blame one another. Citizen journalists help the famous journalists to become even more famous, and while, the cosmopolitan New York based journalist, the famous in Delhi, Amsterdam, Sydney, London, or elsewhere in the world enjoy all the benefits of a well paid job and fame, the citizen journalist is doing it for free, most of the time, they are paying to do it, they buy their own equipment, they don't get any material compensation for what they do and unfortunately in several cases, they end up paying the highest price: their lives!
Today, I am a BEARING WITNESS as Basil, I am a citizen journalist, I don't want to die for telling the truth, but if I have to die, I will die defending the rights of citizen journalists to have the same rights as other journalists. Journalism is about passion. It is also about talent and perception. It is about having a feeling and even a sixth sense, and guts to translate facts into words, to express people's angst in pictures, to capture history in motion.
How many of us academics go to university or school of journalism to study but do not have the courage or the talent to go to the streets, with our cameras, prepared to face the world's most feared regimes?
I do have my utmost respect for credential, professional journalists, who are also academics and I wish we can find a way to preserve the profession. We also need to strive for our rights to report reality without censorship and control of Media owners. Once we realize that it is up to us to fight for our rights, we also understand that citizen journalists aren't our competitors, they are our allies!
If you think it is necessary to have a discussion, you are welcome. Whatever you do, I hope you will also join me at Media and Globalization and join our projects to help professional journalists and citizen journalists to continue our crusade for freedom of expression everywhere in the world.
In the book called "We are All Journalists ", Grant argues,that " journalism is an activity undertaken, and not a profession practiced", Gant invites us to "join the extended role of the press. He argues that the media's role as a check on government depends on both the expanded category of journalism and the unfettered freedom to report without fear of government reproach". (Scott Grant)
The rise of citizen journalism, makes news accessible to anyone, makes professional journalim easier, as we can get fresh and free information, from every corner of the Earth.Unlike many people that in dramatic moments, take a moment of silent for the victims, today, in honour of Basil and citizen journalists worldwide, I hope you will allow me to shout: STOP PREJUDICES AGAINST CITIZEN JOURNALISTS, BREAK THE SILENT, SPEAK UP! At the end of the day they are citizen journalist becoming heroes, they become our confidential sources therefore we do not want them as heroes, we want them alive!
E. van de Craats
March, 11. 2012
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