Some say that the television helped to bring the indefinite Vietnam War to a halt by showing the horrors of war, inspiring anti-war protest movements and the general sentiment.
Fast forward 50 years. Now instead of the era of television, we’re living in the era of the internet. The internet has brought recent global conflicts and disasters in Japan, Libya, Egypt and elsewhere to the forefront of western attention. Could it be said that the internet has a similar effect on global opinion on international affairs as the television did to the United States during the Vietnam War?
Ironically, internet exposure of global disasters and conflicts can influence the average citizens to want to become more involved and to become more of a global citizen—as contrast with the isolationist sentiment in the 1960s.
Just a random thought as I peruse the news.
An elderly woman kisses a riot solider in the streets of Cairo. A building collapses in Tokyo. Bloodied bodies and dismembered limbs fill an infirmary in Benghazi. The images come to us through Twitter and Tumblr and Facebook, captured through mobile phones or Web-ready digital cameras. Far from the grit of revolutionary unrest or the tumult of a natural disaster, average people sit, transfixed.
This story is a familiar one. As new media tools and social networks have become more widely utilized, the powerful images of the world’s crises are delivered directly to the laptops and smartphones of people around the globe. Since Iranian citizens filled the streets of Tehran in 2009 in defiance of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s regime, social media has allowed even the least tech-savvy people around the world to become bystanders to history.
While new media’s value as an organizational tool during global crises has been much debated since the Iranian election protests in 2009, its role in the process of narrative storytelling is palpable. In places like Libya where journalists are outlawed — or disaster zones like post-quake Haiti where regular means of communication are interrupted — the linkages of social networks can be turned into a means of observing (or, in the case of a tech-savvy dictatorship, surveilling) the origins of political unrest or the makings of a world historical moment. But new media also comes with challenges for photojournalists: while a single snapshot may tell a thousand-word story, the trick is to get that story right.
Read more at The Atlantic
[Image: Tom Hundley/Pulitzer Center]
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