Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Condi Rice witnesses the power of citizen journalism

At a gathering at Stanford University on April 27, students Jeremy Cohn and Sammy Abusrur asked Condoleeezza Rice tough, pointed questions about her role in the Bush administration's decision to use waterboarding on detainees and other politically charged and ethically important questions related to her tenure in the White House.

Her surprisingly emotionally charged and condescending remarks contrast, as TechPresident pointed out, with how "this civil, mildly persistent questioning from college students generated more pressure - and answers - than many of the professional television interviews Rice has done." 

I was, not surprisingly, infuriated with her answers. Waterboarding IS TORTURE. Claiming that there has been no torture in Guantanomo is a lie. The unfortunate truth, however, is that after eight years, I'm used to witnessing a waterfall of lies from Bush Administration officials.

There is still a light at the end of the tunnel.

Look at what these young people did. They stood up to a famous, public official. They asked her smart, tough questions. They taped the interview and posted to YouTube. The interview hasn't been cut into bits and pieces and edited to over-accentuate Rice's rude remarks. The video stands as it is - and there's no commentary about what she said at any point along the way. You can take it for what it is and draw your own conclusions. Oh wait? What does that process seem to resemble? That's right - sound journalism.

We're living in an age in which we're witnessing the fall of great newspapers, both large and small. We fear what will happen to our news consumption. And often times we assume the worst. 

But look at the other side of the coin.

Three young college students witnessed more than 160,000 people view their video, traditional media and bloggers pick up the story and bring it into the forefront of people's minds. 

Would this have been possible fifteen, even ten years ago? No.

I believe that the more citizen journalists we have hitting the pavement, particularly those pursuing truth and justice, will only serve to enhance journalism. No, the medium itself won't resemble what we've all known all our lives, but in many ways it will be better than before.

Congrats to these young men for having the courage to ask Rice questions and leave it to the public to interpret. 

1 comment:

  1. This is such a painfully awkward confrontation to watch