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Nicaragua: Justice Crosses Borders With Social Media

Editor's Note: As you'll notice on the colored maps to your right as you explore around Global Voices, some countries and regions are better represented on the site than others. Most often this is because some countries have more bloggers than others. In Santiago, Chile, for example, it's almost impossible to stay up to date on the daily swarm of cyber-commotion. But in Paraguay, there is only a handful of regular bloggers. Nicaragua's blogging community has wavered between smaller and small for some time. We are fortunate to now have Rodrigo Peñalba and Mario Delgado of Barricada.com.ni as contributors to the site. Their first post takes a look at how blogs and video sharing sites are shaping public opinion about a controversial court case in which American Eric Volz was convicted of the murder of his girlfriend in Nicaragua.

The recent media campaign launched by the Volz family puts in doubt all of the commentaries, news stories, and reports published in the Nicaraguan media.

Taking advantage of YouTube, MySpace, and various blogs, the Volz family has managed to get the attention of North Americans television programs, opinion pages, and senators and representatives who can act at the political level to pressure the Nicaraguan judiciary.

On the other hand, Nicaraguan netizens, still too dispersed to have a strong blogosphere, have expressed themselves on forums and the comment pages of national newspapers.

Both parties put forth their cases, some with personal manifestations of friendship, others with national patriotism, and many more with epithets of all kinds.

In its national news section, El Nuevo Diario has responded to the online challenge to their coverage of the Volz case by insisting that their reports [ES] and facts are true; but they are also trying to change the opinions of relatives and friends of Eric Volz.

This, beyond the verity of facts, or the innocence of the involved parties, is a battle of Nicaragua's traditional media (La Prensa, El Nuevo Diario, and TV news programs), against the social media pressure of the blogosphere, a new medium of journalism and collective information based on social relations made over the internet.

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