When Mohammed Bouazizi lit himself on fire outside the Tunisian municipal office in December 2010, no one thought his eventual death to be the catalyst for the Tunisian Revolution that led to the demise of the 23-year reign of the Tunisian President, Zine el Abidine Ben Ali.

In neighbouring Egypt, prior to January 2011, if you were to walk into any local cafe you would hear and most likely partake in, conversations about the tyranny of the government, corruption of the police and the time for revolution. These conversations were soon happening online as well. News of Tunisia’s revolution and outrage over civilian Khalid Said’s brutal murder, led Egypt to eventually plunge into its own revolution in January 2011. This string of revolutions are known as the ‘Arab Spring’ and a lot of the work for this was done online. Mass rallies and protests were organised on online forums, reports of abuse by police forces were shared on Twitter, and renewed feelings of patriotism were fostered on Facebook pages. Even today, the ‘We are Khalid Said’ page remains amongst the most popular and liked pages within the Egyptian community.

But the revolution then not only changed history but also proved that even back in 2011, tech-journalism played an integral role. Five years later, this role has become even more important. The world today is so reliant on social media and online applications to receive news updates that for a large majority of people holding a newspaper might be foreign altogether. Nevertheless, individuals today are more aware than they have ever been.

With Twitter on their fingertips, news often breaks on Twitter feeds first than it does on live news channels. Journalists are increasingly using Snapchat to report live from the field. We have never been closer to the stories being told, and consequently with the medium of reporting changed, awareness and viewership has increased. However, the core importance of tech-journalism is overshadowed by the mainstream nature of it. For example, movements such as Black Lives Matter are completely dependent on their social media campaigns. With organization of protests in different states and providing evidence of a new case of police brutality on Facebook Live, social media is evidently becoming revolutionary in ways more than one.

In countries like Pakistan, news channels and its reporters are often ruthless and daresay, insensitive, in their intensively hasty reporting. While being quick to cover, dissect, and even exploit the story, they often completely sideline the core facts of the story itself. Because of the accessibility and convenient nature of tech-journalism, these characteristics are taken undue advantage of. In turn, politicians and politics as a whole are dragged through the mud because nothing remains under wraps anymore. Fortunately, tech-journalism today has done monumental work in disrupting and untangling this messy relationship. Regardless of what the local media reports to you, one can still access other unreported stories or read up on an alternate perspectives of a specific issue. From the Arab Spring, we have come a long way and I still believe history can be rewritten and revolutions can rise up, all we need is awareness about issues. Luckily for the present generation, we just need to go online to do that.

SYEDA HAYAAM HAROON,

Karachi, November 2.