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Thursday Videos: The YouTube Effect

The astronomical success of YouTube and other “Web 2.0” sites led TIME magazine to name “You” their person of the year, beating out Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. FP Editor Moisés Naím has a short piece out in the LA Times on “YouTube journalism”—the idea that video clips shot by ordinary people and disseminated online can ...

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The astronomical success of YouTube and other “Web 2.0” sites led TIME magazine to name “You” their person of the year, beating out Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. FP Editor Moisés Naím has a short piece out in the LA Times on “YouTube journalism”—the idea that video clips shot by ordinary people and disseminated online can change the world.

Fifteen years ago, the world marveled at the “CNN effect” and believed that the unblinking eyes of TV cameras, beyond the reach of censors, would bring greater global accountability. These expectations were, to some degree, fulfilled. Since the early 1990s, electoral frauds have been exposed, democratic uprisings energized, famines contained and wars started or stopped thanks to the CNN effect. But the YouTube effect will be even more powerful. Although international news operations employ thousands of professional journalists, they will never be as omnipresent as millions of people carrying cellphones that can record video. Thanks to the ubiquity of video technology, the world was able to witness a shooting in a 19,000-foot-high mountain pass in Tibet.

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Naím mentions several videos, some of which were flagged by Passport in recent weeks. We’ve assembled them for you at the links below.

  • Murder in the mountains: Chinese soldiers shot down Tibetan monks, women, and children in cold blood, but a climber caught them on tape.
  • China can’t censor everything: A Sky News reporter risks detention, even harm to report on the simmering discontent brewing in China over land grabs. But the victims haven’t been waiting around for him to discover their misery. His report builds on footage shot by ordinary Chinese of clashes between peasants and government hired thugs, and of ordinary people being forcibly evicted from their houses.
  • Real or staged, we’ll never know: This harrowing video, purportedly of U.S. troops crying and praying during a firefight with Iraqi insurgents, may be a fake. But that didn’t stop 86,000 people from viewing it in the first 10 days after it was posted.
  • Inside Egypt’s jails: An Egyptian police officer slaps around a detainee, to the delight of his colleagues. He didn’t think anyone was watching.
  • Two U.S. humvees attacked in Baquba: A typical video posted by Iraqi insurgents of a roadside bomb attack on a U.S. convoy.

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