I used to get my news in a very traditional way.
Every weekday morning when I piled the Alphabets and Honey Nut Cheerios into the deepest bowl I could find in my kitchen, CBC radio was in the background. I kept my ears especially perked in the winter when there was a chance for my school to be closed. But mostly the morning show was just on in the background. I went about my business – shoved cereal in my mouth and made the same-old paper-bag lunch – and that station was always there. After there wasn’t a snow day and I came home from school, Mom prepared supper and the TV was on in both the kitchen and living room. The streaming channel was CBC. At this point in my life, there was an awesome line-up of shows that started around 4 p.m. I believe it started with Family Matters and then went to The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and The Simpsons was in there some time too. Then at 6 p.m. my family sat down to eat dinner and watch CBC News at Six. Now some may say watching TV during dinner takes away from intelligent conversation, but they’re way off. In fact, I still appreciate those old habits my parents embedded in me.
I don’t have as much time as I used though. I have a roommate who likes to sleep in – and for good reason – so I can’t listen to CBC radio every morning. And four out of five weekdays I am working or have class when CBC broadcasts its television news. So for me, this “online revolution” is my saviour. It’s where I get most of my news. And I don’t think I’m the only one. The online revolution has redefined – or at least attempted to redefine – journalism. It has flowered the birth of “citizen journalism,” it has created the blog-o-sphere and it has allowed people in the centre of protests in Cairo, Egypt to become part of the conversation.
The amount of information that is coming from the streets of Cairo is remarkable. I believe this has a lot to do with the revolution of communications and the media. Twitter or Facebook didn’t create the mass of anti-government, pro-democracy Egyptians. But they renforced it. In his article “Small change,” Malcolm Gladwell said the internet only capable of creating small change. He said it can organize a network of online protesters or supporters, but that network won’t be anywhere near as strong as those who fought during the American Civil Rights Movement . Gladwell has a point, but I think it’s possible to have both these aspects of change. And it starts in Cairo.
The good and bad of the media revolution is that there is an enormous amount of information out there. There are civilian videos on YouTube, constant status updates on Facebook and live Twitter feeds on many news sites. It’s great. But as news consumers, we have to be careful and avoid information overload. That’s where journalists come in.
The connection between the revolution in Cairo, Egypt and the revolution in communications and media is that journalists are in the centre of it all – but so are many citizens all over the world. So it’s up to the journalist state the facts. Be there. Do what he or she is paid to do, what he or she loves to do and never mind everyone else.
I think today’s journalists – including myself – are afraid of the “citizen journalist” and the amount of people who could easily “take over” our jobs. But we just have to remember that although some people don’t have the liberty to listen to CBC radio in the morning or watch the TV broadcast at night, the consumers themselves still exist. And as long as they’re going online to get their news – like myself – good journalism has to exist.
And the situation in Cairo, Egypt shows us just how great a resource the internet can be for that.