Saturday, July 22, 2006

Live from Lebanon: The rapid rise of a 'citizen journalist'

The MSM has been ramping up coverage of the crisis in the Middle East, World War III, the latest Israel-Lebanon conflict, or whatever you want to call it. But if you want an unfiltered, on the ground view of the situation, visit Manamania. As far as I can tell, the blogger is French and living in Lebanon. (I stand corrected -- cedarseed is Lebanese.) Her nickname is cedarseed, and she's hidden her bio "until it's safe to come out." Before July 12, she was blogging about getting an iDog, her trip to Madagascar, and the French being in the World Cup finals. Then, on the 12th, she posted an entry entitled "Sh*theads, all of them." (I can't link to it directly because she doesn't have permalinks turned on.)

Since then, she's posted almost 50 entries, almost all about the war/conflict/apocalypse. She's appeared on CNN. The number of comments on each post has jumped from a handful to more than 100. She's gone from 9 links to the blog to 72 (73 after this post) according to Technorati.

If it's not clear from all of this how different the world is today because of the Internet, read this quote from cedarseed:

"I suddenly find myself with dozens of new readers and I'm greatful for all the support and understanding I'm finding here. I've been telling people this is a huge difference with the 80s when we couldn't even call each other up on the phone, let alone communicate with the outside world. I'm so happy to see there are so many people out there willing to look at the events with a clear mind and make up their own opinion."

And for those who aren't clear on the value of 'citizen journalists,' here's her latest post:
Israeli warplanes raided the transmission antennas of TV stations as well as cellular phone stations in Fatka, Sannine and Terbol.

I heard this from two friends before it was even online – one who saw it happen from the beach, one who is in one of these areas and is now deprived of her phone because the network is down. This sucks. There's nothing worse than being cut off :( What''s next, I wonder?

I may not stop checking CNN, but I'm adding cedarseed to my 'Daily Surf' list. What does that say about journalism in the 21st century?