I believe the Saddam execution video is an excellent example of this kind of citizen journalism: The broadcasting of the uncensored video online was able to take advantage of the capabilities of social media to shed compelling light on the situation in Irak for the entire world to witness. What troubled me the most when the video was made public was not so much how authorities decided to ardently persecute those responsible for making the video—this was inevitable—it was the fact that mainstream news media censored the video by not airing it completely and doing so without sound.
I believe the world had a right to see first-hand the realities of Saddam's execution in all its raw power, and I hold the person responsible for filming the video and making it available online a journalistic hero. I hope more people around the world follow suit by documenting controversial events on their cell phones or portable cameras and posting these on the Web. Regardless of the motivations, the Saddam video was an act of courage.
Ironically, however, as mainstream news outlets begin to add social media tools to their online publications, it seems news is being watered down, as hard-hitting reports become overshadowed by cutesy and kooky news pieces. Take a look at the mock news from The Onion, which pokes fun at this very situation by headlining an article with “'Most E-Mailed’ List Tearing New York Times Newsroom Apart.” While the piece is by no means real (it's super funny--I highly recommend it), it is dead-on about the effects the Internet is having over corporate news reporting. So the question still remains: While the Web has proven a useful tool in disseminating news with viral speed, is it actually acting as a nullifying force on journalism as a whole? I’d love to hear your thoughts.