For what it’s worth, citizen journalism in Cuba is surprisingly developed. Yoani Sanchez, is one of the most prominent Cuban citizen journalists, whose insights are certainly worth looking more into, on Twitter, her website, and the Huffington Post, which features a lot of her english writings. For the restrictions placed on every other kind of jounalism in Cuba, it’s essentially the best and safest option, and potentially the most fertile soil for a vibrant journalistic culture to grow.
Physical brutality and detainment are among the challenges that citizen journalists face in Cuba. They endure the risks of being their own sources, seeking out information for themselves, and sharing it with others in small networks of trusted independent journalists. At the same time, when they contact local people to ask for information on what’s going on in their area, their input is “closer to allegations than to verified information“, as written in an article, “Island in the Storm”, by Yoani Sanchez. Citizen journalists exist in Cuba as a series of networks including, that also function as support organizations, facilitating the safe passage of information, which doesn’t always reach across the island.
Because of Cuba’s immense but slightly informal surveillance apparatus, the CDR journalists have to follow an exceedingly complicated social media/information sharing scheme. They use inconspicuous offline methods, like flash drives, DVD’s and CD’s. Additionally, with the immense price of internet access, and the fact that its highly monitored, web resources like twitter not only become economically unwise, but also dangerous.
Yoani Sanchez is exemplary in the use of these media. She even overcomes the challenges in internet access, and operates several blogging platforms. Her story (largely accessible through her own writings and thus subject to some bias), exists in what is similar to a series of excerpts from an autobiography tying her journalistic identity to a new revolution, paralleling the dictators who have ruled the country for over half a century. Those same dictators refer to her as having been put on the payroll of the American empire, and she has also been described as Anti-Cuban. But judging from what she writes about, she more so comes across as staunchly anti-Castro, and not necessarily pro-American, although her access to internet and use of American-made media, and the underlying financial support this indicates, may arouse some suspicion.
The tide may yet be turning. Cuba recently hosted a contingent of students of journalism to visit California State Unitversity, Fullerton. Exiled journalists have been speaking out more, encouraging change.