Friday, March 19, 2010

Journalism via text messages in Cuba

Journalism via text messages in Cuba

With limited access to Internet, and in the absence of a free press,
Cuban citizens have created their own unique form of journalism: news
bulletins by text messaging. The service is described by well-known
Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez via Twitter.

"Someone receives some information and sends it to everyone in their
book of contacts," she tweeted Thursday. With cell phones in hands,
users pass the text messages to other people, creating a network for
distributing news. The service began to work after months of planning,
Sánchez says.

This is another demonstration of creativity by Cuban citizens to
circumvent the restrictions on freedom of expression on the island.
Despite the limited access to Internet (Sánchez complained Thursday of
"virtual blindness" that lasted five days), users of blogs and Twitter
have discovered alternative, increasingly creative forms of
communicating through their network.

The best example comes from Sánchez herself. In March 2008, the Cuban
government installed a computer filter that blocked her blog, Generation
Y, from the nation's public Internet services. But she did not give up,
and with the help of friends living abroad, she continued publishing her
stories, she explains on her profile. In October 2009, she inaugurated
from her home a "Blogger Academy" dedicated to training new bloggers.

Sánchez also has a unique form of using Twitter: she sends 140-character
sentences via text to her friends, who place the words onto Internet in
her name. After learning of the restrictions on Internet in Venezuela,
she offered to teach colleagues there to use Twitter via text message.

The 32-year-old blogger is one of the most important voices on the
island to criticize restrictions on freedom of expression placed by the
Havana regime. Time magazine chose her as one of its most 100
influential people on the planet. In May 2008, she won the Ortega y
Gasset prize for digital work. And in 2009, she accepted the Maria Moors
Cabot prize via YouTube after Havana denied her request to travel.

See these main members of the Cuban blogosphere in this profile on
Twitter and on the site Vozes Cubanas (Cuban Voices).

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