According to CNN’s recent article “Blogs helping expose Myanmar horrors,” blogging citizen journalists like Ko Htike are helping get information out of Myanmar despite the ardent efforts of government leaders to silence them:

Armed with a laptop, a blogger named Ko Htike has thrust himself into the middle of the violent crackdown against monks and other peaceful demonstrators in his homeland of Myanmar. Ko Htike runs his Myanmar blog out of his London apartment and says he’s trying to stop the violence. From more than 5,500 miles away, he’s one of the few people getting much needed information out to the world. He runs the blog out of his London apartment, waking up at 3 a.m. every day to review the latest digitally smuggled photos, video and information that’s sent in to him. With few Western journalists allowed in Myanmar, Htike’s blog is one of the main information outlets. He said he has as many as 40 people in Myanmar sending him photos or calling him with information. They often take the photos from windows from their homes, he said.

Can you imagine facing imprisonment and possible death for posting photos online? That is the reality for Myanmar citizen journalists.

The Global Voices Online website also provides multiple examples of other bloggers serving as citizen journalists in this crisis. Latest articles for Myanmar (Burma) include:

The article China: Bloggers side with Burmese monks by John Kennedy reflects the impact this incident and the accessibility of disruptive technologies like blogs are having on other countries in the region. John writes:

While Chinese authorities remain weaselly in their diplomatic response to Myanmar’s fatal clampdown on the tens of thousands of monks and citizens of Yangon who have come out to rally for an end to the military dictatorship, a number of influential Chinese bloggers have taken the radical move of going against all known truths regarding The Chinese Mind as of Sept. 17, 2007 with some throwing their weight squarely behind the Saffron Revolution and others even using this incident as an opportunity to reflect on the state of China’s own democratic movement.

We are still living in a world riven with suffering, greed, corruption, war, and the abuse of power. Yet despite these harsh realities, the tools available at the fingertips of those with access to the Internet and the global stage it represents are fundamentally different from the communication tools of the past. As I noted in December and August of 2006, educators at multiple levels need to not only highlight the value of current, credible, non-traditional information sources like Global Voices Online and Wikipedia, but also encourage learners of all ages to acquire both the critical thinking skill set as well as digital literacy skill set of the citizen journalist.

The situation continuing to unfold in Myanmar is fundamentally different from other “headlines” we see in the popular press. This isn’t a sporting event or a distracting story about a celebrity facing jail time. The issues of human rights, including self-determination, at stake in Myanmar and elsewhere are of transcendent importance. These are not merely theoretical constructs worth exploring, debating, and defending, however, these are real events which are affecting the lives of millions in different parts of the world.

While some news reporters like Brigid Delaney are also emphasizing the constructively disruptive potential of citizen journalism and blogging to shed light on issues authoritarian leaders would prefer to keep in the dark, we need to remember that access to digital tools to both read about these ideas (and see these images) as well as the capacity to publish them individually is still sharply limited across the planet. Yet, these distributed, empowering technologies do represent a “chink in the regime’s armor” in Myanmar (to borrow Brigid’s phrase) and do not appear to be going away.

Do the students in your classroom know about what is happening in Myanmar today? I’m sure that is not on your curriculum pacing guide for today, but do you think the events there are significant enough to warrant a “sidetrip for learning” today on this topic, even if it is a brief one? How should your students determine the validity of content they read on the web, about this issue and others? If you don’t take an opportunity to use this as a teachable moment, what other opportunities to learn about media literacy do you think you’ll use this year to help students develop lasting memories and skills on these subjects? If, as Tim Tyson exhorts us to consider, “meaningfulness” begins today regardless of our age or context, should we be taking concrete actions to affect situations like that in Myanmar, even if those actions seem “limited” to helping inform others about what is happening?

I think the answer is yes.

Technorati Tags:
, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes' free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes' newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and "eBook singles?" 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes' subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes' free magazine "iReading" on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wes' Facebook page for "Speed of Creativity Learning". Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?"

On this day..

Share →

7 Responses to Value of blogs and citizen journalism demonstrated in Myanmar

  1. A. Mercer says:

    Excellent post on Myanmar. I’m seeing some posts over the last few months on human rights issues. International Human Rights Day is in early December. I’d like to try to organize something with edubloggers around that issue/event. Are you willing to help publicize? BTW, California has human rights included in its standards (although I doubt most teachers get around to it).

    Here is an interesting piece on NPR about using satellite technology to track the razing of villages by the military in Burma: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=14810467

  2. A. Mercer says:

    Excellent post on Myanmar. I’m seeing some posts over the last few months on human rights issues. International Human Rights Day is in early December. I’d like to try to organize something with edubloggers around that issue/event. Are you willing to help publicize? BTW, California has human rights included in its standards (although I doubt most teachers get around to it).

    Here is an interesting piece on NPR about using satellite technology to track the razing of villages by the military in Burma on All Things Considered for 9/28/1007. You can listen at npr.org

  3. Wesley Fryer says:

    Thanks for the NPR reference, I’ll check that out, I think you’re referring to “Watching Myanmar from Above” from Sep 28th..

    I would certainly be interested in hearing more about what you’re wanting to do for Int’l Human Rights Day in December and help amplify that in the blogosphere. Please let me know more as plans develop! 🙂

  4. A. Mercer says:

    I tried to add the link, but it wouldn’t take my comment. I’m guessing that’s to prevent splog. I want to talk to a couple of other teachers in the classroom about it, then I need to figure out if we should do a carnival, meme, or wiki. Suggestions are welcome.

  5. Wesley Fryer says:

    I approved that linked comment Alice, thanks. My WordPress plug-ins are sometimes overly strong in prohibiting links, but I’m pretty happy overall they are keeping actual blog spam comments out. Sorry the posting of your comments with the link was delayed!

  6. Jacqueline says:

    Great post! Check out the posts I’ve written about citizen journalism in the blog linked in my name; also, if you’ve got ideas or projects related to citizen journalism, check out the Knight News Challenge (also linked in the above site).

  7. tom says:

    Wes, Thanks for posting on the role of blogging as activism, and the role that our students can play that can have an impact far beyond their school and local community. Just imagine if human rights became viral!

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Made with Love in Oklahoma City