On Monday, April 16th, Jamal Albarghouti made a consciously editorial decision that the chaos happening – right there – all around him on the Virginia Tech campus, was something that he should record on his video enabled camera. To fight the wise instinct to protect ones life – to set that aside and decide to pick up a camera, turn it on, and roll – can only be described as an act of journalism. I’ve been in situations where I’ve actively chosen to pick up my camera an roll, despite enormous risk to my life so I admire Albarghouti because of his actions. Albarghouti then posted this video to CNN’s I-Report (hello NBC!!)
Jamal Albarghouti being interviewed
So it was a very big moment for me to have the opportunity to meet Jamal Albarghouti yesterday. He was doing interviews with other TV, so I walked up and “cherry picked” (loosley defined as glomming off someone else’s already in-progress interview) with my Canon Powershot. Just as I was going to ask my own questions to Albarghouti, he was whisked away (literally grabbed by the arm), by an insistent Canadian TV producer. So I’ve hobbled together a very rough video of Albarghouti responding to reporter questions. I wish I’d had more time with him, but just as he rushed off, I had a live shot to attend to myself! On a technical note, Jamal’s tool of choice is the Nokia N70 (I suggested he may want to look at the N95).
This again raises the issues of citizen jouralism. Is Jamal Albarghouti a “journalist” because he comitted an “act of journalism”? I certainly think he has the right instincts to be a fine photojournalist. There are those out there who would like to see enitre news operations built on solo journalists with video phones. I think that idea is gimmicky. I do believe that given no pictures, or the pictures of a courageous, resourceful individual with keen editorial instincts and a video enabled phone… I’ll take grainy, shaky cell phone video any day. This demonstrates that technology provides the means not the end, an option not the solution. Jamal provided a courageous first person point of view, and big media provided more in depth context and coverage. What do you think?