The Video Revolution
Fig. 1. Courtesy of CIMA, 2012.

The Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) at the National Endowment for Democracy released its report titled The Video Revolution written by Jane Sasseen. The report "traces the dramatic rise in the use of crowd-sourced video and examines how this is affecting the international news media landscape and offers recommendations for the media development community for harnessing the power–while mitigating the dangers­­–of citizen-shot video."

From the report's executive summary:

Citizens shooting video and spreading it through social media have become critical eyewitnesses in exposing government repression and abuse. The shift has put them at the nexus of a rapidly evolving media food chain: Their footage frequently is helping to free up press coverage at home even as it serves as primary source material both for newspapers such as the New York Times and international television channels such as al-Jazeera, CNN, and the BBC. They, in turn have magnified its impact by broadcasting clips shot by citizen videographers to hundreds of millions of viewers around the globe. If the rise of video has created new opportunities and increased accountability, however, it has also created increased challenges for journalism. Much of the footage shot by citizens around the globe and loaded onto YouTube or elsewhere is of poor quality, with little context or clear narrative.

As they have come to rely more on such amateur footage, newspapers and television stations often must grapple with clips of indeterminate origin in which it is far from clear exactly what is happening. In situations of conflict, such as the Syrian uprising, that problem is exacerbated by the fact that activists engaged in the fight are shooting much of the footage. They are not–nor do they pretend to be–objective, balanced journalists by any traditional standard. Their goal, instead, is to rally support to their side. As a result, they may only portray a limited or partial view of what is taking place. Inadvertently or not, that can slant the coverage.

Unearthing outright fabrication is another challenge, forcing news organizations to develop extensive new practices to authenticate footage that, in many cases, has been shot or uploaded anonymously.

The growing ubiquity of video has brought other new risks as well, chief among them the security dangers faced by those who shoot, upload, or simply appear in the videos. While the spread of video-enabled cellphones and cheaper Internet access has done wonders to fuel the video revolution, those technologies also carry grave dangers for those who do not use them carefully.

Table of Contents

Executive Summary
The Power of Video
The Rise of the Video Era
Mobile Technologies Fuel the Growth of Video
Crowd-Sourced Video
Fostering a New Accountability Journalism
A Force for More Independent Local Media?
Journalistic Challenges of Crowd-Sourced Video
Authenticating Crowd-Sourced Video
The Security Challenges of Crowd-Sourced Video

The full report is available for PDF download here.