The Arab spring was a wave of social and political unrest that caused protests in certain countries in North Africa and the Middle East (Diamond, Plattner, 2012). The countries involved were Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, and Sudan among others. New media was important in these countries for gathering news during the demonstrations. In fact these protests relied heavily on new media usage for news gathering, and mobilization of masses in their early stages.
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People widely used You Tube to share the videos of the protests, and demonstrations in countries such as Egypt and Tunisia. Those taking part in the demonstrations, and other people on the ground often took videos of the clashes between civilians, and the police, and uploaded them on You Tube (Diamond, Plattner, 2012). These videos were meant to mobilize other protesters, or win support for the demonstrators in various countries of the world. Those with access to the internet through mobile phones, computers, and other gadgets could easily get to You Tube, and view the videos showing the events taking place in the affected countries. The success of the protesters in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and other Arab countries shows how much new media contributed to the protests.
As much as new media has displayed a lot of potential in news gathering, it cannot be seen to be on its way to supplant traditional mass media news gathering. Mass media has been around for a long time, and many conservative people have developed confidence in it (Croteau, Hoynes, & Milan, 2012). This makes it hard for new technology to take the place of traditional mass media in matters of news gathering. On the other hand, new media does not guarantee consistency in newsgathering and therefore, many people may not like it. It also has a problem of credibility since the owner, or source of the news may not be revealed. On You Tube for example, those uploading videos may remain anonymous and cause people to raise questions about the news being incredible (Diamond, Plattner, 2012).
Unlike traditional mass media, the news gathered from new media may not be verifiable because of the anonymity of the sources. Because they are anonymous, those uploading videos of You Tube may be mischievous individuals providing news that are malicious and untrue. People with new media gadgets may have a place in newsgathering, but they may not manage to replace traditional mass media. New gathering on new media is also rapid unlike the traditional mass media. However, traditional mass media has a higher level of trust and confidence from its audience when compared to new media (Croteau et al., 2012). New media scores lowly in this.
In news gathering, the citizen reporter had many challenges arising from news distribution, and production structures. The news gathered through citizen journalism could not reach the masses because news had to be edited and gauged on standards such as those of accuracy, credibility, and verifiability among others. The processes of news production could easily become a stumbling block for news gathered by the citizen reporter. If the news was not found worthy, or fit for broadcasting, or printing in the case of print media, then it could not be allowed to reach the intended audiences (Croteau et al., 2012).
Croteau, D., Hoynes, W., & Milan, S. (2012). Media/Society: Industries, Images, and Audiences.Los Angeles, CA: Sage.
Diamond, L., & Plattner, M. (2012). Liberation Technology: Social Media and the Struggle for Democracy. Baltimore, Maryland: JHU Press.