December 8th, 2009
11:39 AM ET

The future of journalism in the world's most dangerous place for journalists

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/11/26/philippines.reaction/story.koronadal.gi.jpg caption="Families, friends, students and sympathizers light candles in Koronadal, Philippines, for the Maguindanao victims." width=300 height=169]

Maria A. Ressa
Head, ABS-CBN News & Current Affairs
Former CNN Jakarta Bureau Chief

57 people killed in broad daylight, 30 of them journalists. It was premeditated murder because even before they were ambushed, their graves were dug. It was the worst election-related violence we have ever seen and the deadliest single attack on journalists anywhere around the world.

This is a story about the courage of one anonymous Filipino – a citizen journalist – who risked his life three times on Monday, November 23 to tell the world about the massacre in the southern Philippines. His courage gave the world the first photograph of the carnage released to the public. It also shows how professional journalists and citizen journalists can work together to circumvent fear, prevent a whitewash and get the Truth out.

ABS-CBN’s citizen journalism program began during our 2007 elections. We called it “Boto Mo, I-Patrol Mo.” Translated it means, “Patrol Your Votes.” It was the first time globally that a broadcast media organization used the power of mass media and combined it with mobile phone technology and new media for a political purpose: to help ensure elections are free and fair.

It’s important in the Philippines because our elections have always been plagued by rampant cheating and violence. The Philippine National Police declared the 2007 elections the most peaceful in our history – with only about 130 people killed in 217 incidents of poll-related violence.

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