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Syria’s Civil War: Coverage Unlike Any Before

From the Associated Press,

“Amid all the bloodshed, confusion and deadlock of Syria’s civil war, one fact is emerging after 2½ years — no conflict ever has been covered this way.

Amateur videographers — anyone with a smartphone, Internet access and an eagerness to get a message out to the world — have driven the world’s outlook on the war through YouTube, Twitter and other social media.

The tens of thousands of videos have at times raised outrage over the crackdown by the regime of President Bashar Assad and also have sparked concern over alleged atrocities attributed to both sides.

The videos have also made more difficult the task of navigating between truth and propaganda — with all sides using them to promote their cause. Assad opponents post the majority of videos, and nearly every rebel-held area or brigade has a media office that produces and disseminates them. To a lesser degree, regime supporters produce some videos — but they also pick apart opposition videos, trying to show they are fake.

In the Vietnam War, the 1991 Gulf War and the second Gulf War in 2003, foreign media directly covered the conflicts, often with reporters embedded with or accompanying the American military.”

A story like this is the reason this blog was even created – and because of its’ requirement for class, of course.

It’s groundbreaking. It puts any user/reader/viewer/tweeter [safely] on the frontlines of the conflict. The view from a sniper’s nest, evidence of atrocities, propoganda and unbiased news all flowing out like a uncontrollable fire hose. Trying to discern truth from half truth is the key to understanding what is actually happening. Understanding who runs a particular account can help to identify which side (if any) the content belongs to.

The videos have undeniably ensured that details of a bloody conflict that has killed more than 100,000 people and ravaged the country do not go unnoticed, providing a look at the horrors of war: villagers digging with through destroyed buildings their bare hands for survivors; massacre victims in pools of blood; children with grave wounds from heavy bombardment.

Newspeople now need to be more cautious. There is a higher responsibility for the news organizations that decide to disseminate YouTube videos to verify before they disseminate it. Causing an uproar over a fake or staged video would bring the last thing the region needs at the moment: more violence.

Michigan Football Coach Has a Message for Social Media Bashers

From Michigan Live:

Earlier in the week, Michigan coach Brady Hoke expressed his displeasure at the boos that poured down onto the Michigan Stadium turf during a 17-13 loss at Nebraska.

Booing isn’t uncommon for any player in NCAA DI, but a new stage is emerging.

After quarterback Devin Gardner discussed the amount of “hate” he’s received via social media from fans this season, Hoke opted to go one step further on his weekly radio show.

“I think that’s as classless as you can get,” Hoke said. “Being the quarterback you take a lot of criticism, some of it, most of it, is probably unwarranted.”

I actually really agree with the coach here. A few weeks ago, I wrote a post on NY Giants running back Brandon Jacobs and his death threat. I think there is a personal factor with social media that is crossing a line that hasn’t officially been drawn yet. If a reporter wanted to go out and write about how bad a quarterback played, or a fan was to post a scathing game review on their Facebook, it’s different because it’s directed to the general public. When you directly tweet someone, often times the real person is behind the account.

Sure, some of it comes with the spotlight. But I think there is a limit and we’re quickly approaching it.

Typhoon Haiyan: Filipinos use social media to ensure no victim goes unaided

Excerpts from NBC Worldnews:

As the tropical sun rose over the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan blew out to sea, and the magnitude of death and destruction slowly came into focus, the Filipino masses responded with long-cherished national values.

Amid a national catastrophe of unimaginable scope, with at least 10,000 feared dead and entire communities leveled by the winds, Filipinos in areas spared the wrath of Typhoon Haiyan are mounting fund-raising and donation drives to aid their storm-battered kin and friends.

The scale of need is enormous. Millions lack shelter. Relief operations have been hampered by heavy debris in harbors and destruction at airports. Felled trees, upended electricity posts and downed power lines have left all but a few roads to the disaster sites impassable.

By Facebook, Filipina Mai Arnaiz Jardeleza-Cataquiz called attention to Estancia, where the dire situation was still unknown. Tagging local journalist Carmela Huelar, the message reads: “In Estancia, Ilo-Ilo alone many many dead bodies are turning up [along] the shoreline. Some of the deceased are from the neighboring islands/provinces and the deceased from Estancia showed up in the neighboring island shores of Carles, Iloilo and other surrounding islands.”

These people have lost much of their lives, yet their courage is undeniably inspiring. Please help in any way possible, even if it is just spreading the word.

Spike Lee Sued Over George Zimmerman Tweet

The controversial filmmaker has been sued by an elderly Florida couple for retweeting information that mistook their home for Zimmerman’s. Lee sent a Twitter message last year to his 240,000 followers with an address that he thought belonged to Zimmerman, who was accused of killing the unarmed Trayvon Martin.

The address actually belongs to Elaine and David McClain of Sanford, Fla., both in their early 70s, and their home became the focal point of online vitriol aimed at Zimmerman, who also lived in Sanford.

Elaine McClain’s youngest son’s name is George Zimmerman but he had no relation to the Zimmerman involved in the case and had not lived at the home in years. They have not sued anyone else.

This is a prime example of the downfalls of the “twitter journalist”. Posting inaccurate information can recklessly endanger, imperil, or slander otherwise innocent people. The McClains’ lives were put in legitimate danger, not to mention the unwarranted heckling, hate mail, and duress they were undoubtedly under.

Hopefully, Spike Lee can be an example of what not to do online.