Robbie Barnett wins the Steve Lehman 6 Gold Star Award™ for being a media pioneer. Robbie was one of the first political bloggers; he was what existed 15 years before blogger and wordpress. He used faxes and later e-mail to deliver news and analysis. He successfully bypassed traditional media and distributed specific information about an area of interest to him and other people.
I first met Robbie Barnett on the back streets of Lhasa, Tibet during the first contemporary independence demonstrations. It was October 1, 1987 and the Chinese had just begun shooting at the Tibetan protestors. He was wearing an old army jacket and offered to hold onto some of my film in case I got arrested.
He like so many were very moved by these events and spontaneously began to gather information about what happened. What is unique is Robbie turned his conviction into the Tibet Information Network (TIN). TIN was an organization that collected and distributed information about what was happening in Tibet. It was a small but very important organization because the mainstream press did very little reporting from Tibet. He once commented upon his work, "I just couldn't stand them lying about everything." From a conceptual standpoint his efforts were also very significant because he successfully merged journalism and human rights (I believe I helped influence this).
Friday, February 5, 2010
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