The power of the people

Kristin: As I start to write this, ABC24 has switched to Al Jazeera, waiting for the UN response to a broken ceasefire in Benghazi in Libya. And I’m switching between ABC24, Twitter and online news of all varieties to work out the background to what is happening.

At TED/TEDActive, Wadah Khanfar, the head of Al Jazeera, spoke about their role in reporting and bearing witness to the profound shifts happening in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Bahrain. He was optimistic about the prospects for change, but the part that sticks with me is the critical importance of the camera as witness. And as witness critical in preventing possible violence.

I was also incredibly lucky to meet Andy Carvin, a senior strategist at NPR (National Public Radio) in the US. He’s been reporting on activities in Egypt, Libya and the Middle East, collating eyewitness reports through public tweets and posted videos, gathering and validating evidence and providing a fast reporting service through Twitter. Following Andy and getting an almost real-time unfolding of events has helped me connect with the experience and needs of the individuals who would otherwise be lost in the news.

Individuals like Wael Ghonim the Google executive who “helped jumpstart Egypt’s democratic revolution with a Facebook page memorializing a victim of the regime’s violence”. Unable or unwilling to leave Cairo, he spoke at TED via TEDxCairo.

These three people show how communication is changing, and the different roles of networks, journalists and citizen reporting. But apart from all that, what stays with me from Wael Ghonim’s talk, and what I wish for over the next few days and weeks, is that “the power of the people is stronger than the people in power.” Here’s watching.


  1. And this is why Andy’s coverage of individuals is so important and so heartbreaking:

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