MediaWireWorld: France 24 works with thousands of citizen observers
On Friday, Reporters Without Borders announced a new partnership with TORSERVERS.NET "to create and maintain 250 additional relays for the Tor network."
Tor is free software and an open network that helps to improve protection of privacy and the security of Internet communications. Using the Tor network ensures protection against a form of network surveillance known as “traffic analysis.” This type of surveillance can be used to discover who is communicating with who and, in some cases, even to identify who you are and where you are located.
Journalists use Tor to communicate in a safe and anonymous manner with sources, whistleblowers and dissidents. Tor can also be used to circumvent website blocking in many countries. Many Internet users in China, Iran, Pakistan and Turkey use Tor to access Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
Grégoire Pouget with Reporters Without Borders said "in doing this, our two organizations are thumbing our noses at the entire world’s censors.”
On Friday, Michael Shanahan wrote about France 24 for the Columbia Journalism Review. The "government-funded, French version of CNN" includes 4,000 unpaid citizen reporters, Shanahan wrote. Those people, known as Observers, live all over the world.
Observers also made a big contribution to France 24’s coverage of the 2009 presidential election in Iran. All foreign reporters had been ejected, so news organizations relied on hundreds of potentially newsworthy videos posted by Iranians on YouTube. Were they real or were they propaganda posted by candidates or the government?
The Observers were called on to check the claimed locations and other facts portrayed in many videos considered by the network all the way down to confirming whether a bridge was actually in a location described in a video.
One key to the project's success may be their verification process.
“Verification is at the heart of the project,” says Derek Thomson, a senior producer who co-founded the Observer network with French journalist Julien Pain seven years ago.
“There is tons of information—and video—on the internet, and the challenge is to find what is true,” he says. “We treat our Observers like any other source. ”
After a week of looking at the front pages of newspapers around the world on Newseum, I've seen a lot of women in bikinis and a lot of footballers. But today, this stood out from The Times of London.