How journalists are using social media to cover security sector issues
Social media has become widely popular among journalists / citizen journalists to cover issues related to the security sector. Social media tools presents several advantages due to their flexible characteristics enhancing speedy publishing and creative development of alternative news coverage.
Why use social media?- Easy assess - mobile phone smaller than a TV crew
- Seem less threatening to authorities enabling citizen journalism when traditional journalists are unable to cover
- No preparation needed - only tools needed are a computer, a camera and/or smart phone
- Cover stories that are overlooked or censored in mainstream media
Which security sector issues can be covered through social media tools?- court hearings and trials
- arrests, searches, unlawful abuse of power etc.
- security sector actors' online interaction with their followers
Covering public protests and abuses by police and military
- Social media tools for news covering have become widely popular throughout the past year as protesters in many parts of the world took to the streets for different reasons.
- Also in the USA the occupy-movement noticed how public media avoided covering their demonstrations. But with thousands having smart-phones, these became vital tools for live coverage of events of e.g. police assault on protesters.
- Online social media platforms have changed the way people protest - both physically but more so online - and showed that these kinds of protests work.
As the American Congress were voting on two bills which could significantly affect and restrict social media platforms, the world's social media users took part in a major campaign against the proposed law. The bills were sacked before their vote in Congress.
Twitter has had a significant effect on enhancing freedom of speech by providing a platform for it and challenging government security demands (by refusing to give up information on users requested by government authorities - or at least informing the account holders that the government was after their data).
Cover court hearings and trials
- Sometimes it can be easier to get access for journalists to cover a hearing or trial through social media tools.
Some journalists dedicate their work to cover trials and hearings by live tweeting or streaming (often followed by in-depth articles).
- The Kenyan Chief Justice, Dr. Willy M. Mutunga, opened up for two-way communication by using Twitter to directly engage with his followers about cases and legal topics.
- Journalists can also use social media platforms to monitor public debate about sensitive cases.
- But before live tweeting from court rooms, journalists should check the local rules and laws that apply. Some places prohibit the use of electronic devices from inside the court room or at certain trails.
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