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Blair talks about Citizen Media in Iraq

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Chris Vallance | 13:02 UK time, Friday, 12 January 2007

In his speech today Tony Blair referenced the transformative role of Citizen Media and web video in the coverage of the war on Iraq:

Twenty-five years ago, media reports came back from the Falklands irregularly, heavily controlled. During the first Gulf war, the media had restricted access and we were mesmerised by footage of cameras attached to the end of Cruise missiles. But now war is no longer something read in dispatches. It comes straight into the living room.

Take a website like Live Leak which has become popular with soldiers from both sides of the divide in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Operational documentary material, from their mobile phones or laptops, is posted on the site. These sometimes gruesome images are the unmediated reality of war. They provide a new source of evidence for journalists and commentators, by-passing the official accounts and records.

LiveLeak.com is a British video sharing site which launched in October. The founder Hayden Hewitt has previously worked with controversial site Ogrish Infact if you visit Ogrish.com you are directed to Liveleak with this message:

"Dear Ogrish Viewer, Welcome to LiveLeak.com. Ogrish.com has been incorporated into Liveleak to ensure you get all the uncensored media you are used to along with so much more. "

Liveleak, tagline "Redifining the Media", is still in beta and there's adult and graphic content on the site so be warned before you take a look, though all posts are fully moderated. Tony Blair's reference isn't the first high profile mention: the site was referenced by White House spokesperson Tony Snow in a similar context. Interestingly as we reported earlier some commenators had seen the Saddam execution video, which was one of the videos bringing LiveLeak some early buzz, as a "tipping point" in the way the social media is transforming news coverage. Tony Blair has been critical of the conduct of that execution but clearly he too is recognising the significance of the change to the way that war is reported that sites like LiveLeak represent

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