Witnessing the economic crisis: Citizen journalism in Belarus

Mar 1, 2012
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Citizen journalism is a great way of getting facts and local news directly from the source–from the community itself. This information can always be processed and published later by the professional journalists. However in Belarus, citizen journalism has yet to take off.

It may be the absence of national catastrophes: as we remember many facts from the tsunami in Japan or from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina were relayed by eyewitnesses who remained in the areas. Or it could be the absence of political life; scandals around politician in more open countries elicit a rise in facts delivered by the citizens to their online accounts from where they are harvested by the journalists. In Belarus, we so far haven’t had any natural disasters (luckily) and we don’t have politics.

Add to that the atmosphere of the total fear that exists here, and is it any wonder citizen journalism hasn’t had a chance to develop?

But despite all this, there is some citizen journalism in Belarus. Even if we have just two examples here, they still prove that it does at least exist. Both of them concern the economic crisis in Belarus. The first is a photo (right) made this week by blogger Andrej Kabanau showing a crowd of people queuing for cheap meat in one of Minsk’s supermarkets.

The second photo (below) was made by an unknown blogger in December 2011. It draws attention to the so-called “successes” of the Lukashenka-built economy model: people at a shop in Minsk queuing for milk that costs 25 cents (the regular price is around one dollar).

 And finally, here is a recording made by the same blogger Andrej Kabanau in June 2011. It features the minister of economy and development, Andrej Tur, who is asked uncomfortable questions regarding the current economic crisis that Belarus is now in. The video was shot on an iPhone and has already gotten 180,000 views, which is significant for Belarus. The author had been temporarily barred from leaving Belarus, allegedly for publishing this video.


About the Author

Alaksiej Lavoncyk

Alaksiej Lavonczyk is a media activist and social media expert from Minsk, Belarus. He had been in charge of the training projects for the NGOs and media on building their capacity in online campaigning and end-user security. Alaksiej had also acted as a consulting and technical expert for NGOs and media in Belarus and four countries of Central Asia (except Turkmenistan) on upgrading media/NGO websites to meet contemporary standards, and on their promotion online. Alaksiej is also running an online training centre for the Central Asians preparing the specialists in SMO promotion.
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