Thursday, January 08, 2009

A Paradigm Shift on How History is Written?

There is that old adage that "history is written by the victors." And that has indeed been true for much of human history. Yet something has shifted with the technology that now powers global communication systems.

No longer can a government dictate what gets reported. No longer can a newspaper or television channel be the sole determinant of who and what gets counted as news, and therefore, as "historical reality." The new media, powered by millions of citizen journalists are changing that adage on writing history.

As we have seen repeatedly in India, citizen journalists are faster to get the news out than traditional media. True, many complain, they provide "superficial" or "unsubstantiated" information and thus muddy the waters.

Very often these complaints are from those who form part of the government establishments and/or mainstream media. It is true that most citizen journalists or as Mumbai and Gaza reveal, twitter-nalists only provide quick facts. Some of it is not verified, but simply sent out. Yet that is what many reporters on the ground - file in copy with their immediate experience and let the news desk make sense of it back home. Now with the "over-democratization" of news, all of us can be our own news-desk, filtering through accounts to decide for ourselves to analyse and understand issues and events. For an old-style liberal like me, that is a dream come true.

Of course, there are problems. Like all human inventions, the over-democratised new media is only as good as the people running with it. Yes there are vanity contests, and propaganda wars, and shoddy reporting. But that is no excuse for throwing out the baby with the bathwater, especially when that baby is overturning the old maxim and giving the vanquished a chance to write history too.

My contribution to that paradigm shift are the following links, all providing images and news from inside Gaza:

1. A detailed blog on the conditions in Gaza from a medical angle dating back to July 2008: A must read for all those who believe the Palestinians instigated this particular crisis.

2. A poignant blog by a Palestinian journalist and mother on raising two children in a perpetual war-zone.

3. Sameh Habeeb's blog on the Untold Story of Gaza.

4. And finally, a poignant, heart-warming photo-log from inside Gaza, again by Sameh Habeeb.

Over-democratization of the media? Bring it on!

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