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Online videos signal shift in accessibility of media
The popular analysis points to the fatal inadequacy of outdated technologies to collect and deliver content.
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Ever since the popularization of the Internet, people have been forecasting the end of old media such as the printed newspaper.

The popular analysis points to the fatal inadequacy of outdated technologies to collect and deliver content as well as to a changed advertisement revenue model that favours online media.

The recent rapid successes of two videos, one locally and one globally, however, show that a true digital revolution in the media might stem less from a technological standpoint but from the rise of public competitors to established media.

The documentary by independent film producer Lee Hui-ren revealing a possible cover-up, or delay in the report of H5N2 outbreaks, by the Taiwanese government in December caused outrage locally, and led to the resignation of Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine head Hsu Tien-lai.

It also triggered investigations by prosecutors and a call by the opposition for probes into the former Council of Agriculture chief, the former premier and the president for possible dereliction of duty.

Lee is known as an "independent" producer in part because, according to him, no major TV news network was willing to run his film, forcing him to release it on the Internet.

Lee, who spent years on the project to track the COA's handling of avian influenza, has been praised by the public as a hero for his meticulous approach and perseverance.

More importantly, he was honored by many as a model journalist for the same reasons.

One of the common comments about the documentary on YouTube reads along the line: "this is how news reports should be done." That is as much praise for Lee as it is a critique on the state of Taiwanese media.

Another video, known as "Kony 2012," become in instant online sensation last week.

The film by Jason Russell from the nonprofit group Invisible Children was viewed over 70 million times on YouTube.

The video focuses on the kidnapping of children, to be turned into child soldiers, by rebel militant leader Joseph Kony in Uganda and calls for his arrest by the end of 2012.

What makes it different from other war and humanitarian documentaries is Russell's freewheeling use of the language of the Facebook generation and his emphasis on celebrity campaigning.

While it successfully raises awareness about Kony, especially among younger viewers, the film has been criticized for oversimplifying the crisis in Africa, for its depiction of the headline-grabbing cause of child-soldier prevention as the apparent solution to all problems, its emphasis of US intervention in African affairs, and the self-focused nature of the film, in which Russell put himself and his young son front and center.

 

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