ICT and new media in conflict areas


Cammaerts reminds us that media can work as a ‘symbolic arena’, as a space that can be used to communicate, broadcast, instigate, propagate, deceive and convince audiences (receptors) about a set of ideas and meanings. A very interesting side of the way ICT and social media have been used in activism is that each person gets to tell their side of the story and their perspective on how things are developing and in which direction.
If we look at the Gaza and Syrian Conflict, for instance, we can see how actively citizens, extremist groups, antigovernment movements and pro-government forces have used Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Vmeo to share their side of the conflict and how they look at things from their perspective. If development entails the idea of taking steps forward, ICT plays a central role by bringing all these different sides of the story and put them on the same platform for everyone to see. Although Cammaerts also reminds that there are limits to the extent of empowerment information and communication offer, the cases of Gaza and Syria serves as a good example of how this line blurs more and more. In many cases, major news broadcasters such as CNN, AlJazeera, Skynews and RTL used material recorded, written and posted by civilians in order to build their news report. A good reason for this is how difficult it has been to reach many of the conflict ridden areas. A lesson from Cammaerts’reflection is that sociocultural changes induced by media are the result of a process in which mindset, attitudes, core values and behaviors change as response to images presented and made available to audiences. For Global South ICT have become a tool to share internally and with Global North the state of affairs in events of conflict and abuse. We might think that their path is to guarantee everyone has access to this tool so that not only a segment of the population is being empowered and heard. As for Global North, there are lessons to learn in the way new media outputs are framed. BBC Framing is, for instance, an initiative in which BBC intends to unveil the truth behind some of the images made available during the Gaza conflict. This video raises many questions about the role of ICT and new media in conflict areas and the interaction between civilians and Western media.
BBC Framing – Gaza

Cammaerts, B. and Carpentier, N. (eds) (2007) Reclaiming the media: communication rights and democratic media roles . Intellect: Bristol, UK.

One thought on “ICT and new media in conflict areas”

  1. Dear Milton Fernando,

    Thank you for your post and forclearly summarizing how new media have increased the opportunity of all sides of a given conflict to be heard and how citizens are playing the role of journalists in communicating what happens in areas, such as Syria, where reporters cannot do their job because of security reasons. However, your post does not mention the risks that these and other citizens may face in authoritarian states or during conflict and war. If activists do not consider online safety and do not know, for example, how to keep anonimous, the risks of being surveilled and punished thanks to ICTs and social media are very big. Cases such as the Zone 9 bloggers in Ethiopia (http://globalvoicesonline.org/2014/07/31/the-zone-9-bloggers-are-writing-from-the-outer-ring-of-the-prison-the-nation-itself/), and many others around the world show that governments and other actors are targeting activists and other dissidents through the Net. I recommend you to read Evgeny Morozov´s article “How dictators watch us on the web” to further reflect on the issue: http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/features/how-dictators-watch-us-on-the-web

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