Sunday, December 20, 2009

Citizentube in Moscow

After our CNN/YouTube Climate Change debate in Copenhagen last week, I've take a few days to visit our country offices on this side of the Atlantic. I'm currently in Moscow, meeting with some of our news partners and talking with Russian journalists about citizen media here. In the past few months, we've seen some notable news clips uploaded by Russian YouTubers, including a viral confessional by Russian policeman Alexey Dymoskiy that inspired other officers to come forward with information on corruption in the Russian police; a video of a hustle at a consumer electronics store in which laptops were being pawned off for $300 apiece; and this amazing clip of a forklift topping crates upon crates of vodka at a Russian warehouse:

There are some impressive sites that exclusively collect and distribute citizen-generated news footage in Russia. The most popular is probably Mobile Reporter - - which serves as a kind of pitch factory for citizen reporters - you send a report to them via direct upload or their new texting application, and they pitch it to the likes of BBC News or Vesti, one of the Russian broadcasters here. They seem to have had success: one of the browse filters on the site is "Seen on TV", and there are lots of clips that have made it to television. Most of them are of auto accidents, severe weather, or fires.

The site Live Journal also has a community of citizen reporters, created in conjunction with the BBC, they call it "Live Report". A little less robust than Mobile Reporter, Live Report seems to be primarily photos. Live Journal, however, is a very popular community site in Russia - over 8.7 M people visit it a month.

More and more Russians are using the Internet to make their voices heard - it's the only medium that has not been heavily regulated by the government. Moscow has only 80% broadband access, and the rest of the country hovers at 20% - however, in just the last year, the number of blogs here has doubled to 7.4 M. President Medvedev's new Kremlin YouTube channel shows that even the state recognizes the power of the web to reach people.


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