In the midst of World War II, families in war zones huddled around a radio or newspaper, hoping to hear news of the allies winning or that the war was over. Today, the media landscape has drastically changed war coverage, due to citizen journalism. With advances in technology, people around the world can instantly post videos or images of bombings or massacres. Society is no longer dependent on conventional news outlets and professional journalists to provide them with reports from war affected areas.
In Aleppo, Twitter has become a vital tool in displaying the true terrors that are unfolding within the Syrian city. One seven year old child, Bana, along with the help of her mother, uses her Twitter account to post about their lives amidst the air raids. The various tweets, photos and images they share also plead with the international community to cease the bombing and rescue them.
Their tweets and videos from their time in Aleppo are particularly harrowing:
Due to the conflicts, remote areas like East Aleppo are difficult for mainstream broadcasters to access. Instead, thousands of citizens, like Bana, are using their smartphones and social media to show the rest of the world the scale of the atrocities that they are experiencing. Thankfully, in December 2016, Bana and her family safely escaped to Turkey.
However, citizen journalism can be a perilous activity. When a city is being bombed, like in the video above, citizen journalists risk their lives to capture footage of the events. In conflict zones, such as Aleppo, holding a smartphone can be as dangerous as holding a gun.
The emergence of citizen journalism has confounded traditional media outlets and scholars who wish to theorize its development. Luke Goode notes that it is unclear if citizen journalism “does more to promote a culture of civic engagement than one of cynicism or nihilism” but when considering Bana and her family’s accounts of the Syrian war, it is obvious that citizen journalism is definitely an eye-opening practice.
Goode, Luke. “Social news, citizen journalism and democracy.” New Media & Society, 11.8 (2009): 1287-1305. Accessed on Blackboard.