Cellphone blogging about the young democracy in Pakistan
February 19th, 2008

With thanks to Erik Sundelof, from All Voices.

All Voices is a very interesting site, at its beta version, organized around news events, user events and people. What I find most valuable so far about it is the empowerment of citizen journalism and on-the-ground journalism by means of technology, such as cellphones (SMS and MMS).

An eloquent and most illustrative example are the elections taking place in Pakistan these days, very well documented, among others, by Amra Tarren, co-founder of All Voices, directly on the ground. She catches the atmosphere of the places, the opinions of the local people and identifies a few deficiencies in the polling process, like people missing from the registration lists and the rerouting of the voters by police representatives to other election stations.

Another material that succeeded to impress me was a clip “starring” young, bright, English fluent Pakistani students, talking about what it really means to live in their country and to support the democratic process taking roots there. What you can hear them say shatters anyone’s potential illusion of Pakistan being a “desert moon” and of its people as remnants of a dark medieval past at the levels of habits and mentality.

They speak very consciously about the difference between conventional news coverage (using the CNN reports example) and more in-depth journalism. They consider that the American public and generally the public living abroad their country cannot be well informed about the Pakistan’s situation until people start visiting the country and see the “eyewitness” way what truly happens there, by throughly documenting on the ground and recording the thoughts and opinions of the native locals, not only the authorities.

So, their fresh minds are quite familiar with the basic rules of quality journalism. Also, they speak very responsibly about the need of supporting the young democratic process begun in Pakistan, no matter the time length and sacrifices needed for its full implementation. These students are already authentically informed and aware citizens, showing a moving combination of realism and idealism at work, which proves that the change of a country begins with the mentality of its young generation.

Don’t forget that you can contribute to All Voices with messages on an existing event or you can create an event of your own. Here you can consult contact data and SMS coverage area for All Voices.


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