International bloggers network offers alternative perspectives on events around the world
Since 2005, the international bloggers network Global Voices has been one of the shining success stories in citizen media: a community of more than 200 bloggers around the world who offer perspectives frequently not heard in the traditional media.
Founded by former CNN Beijing and Tokyo Bureau Chief Rebecca MacKinnon and technologist and Africa expert Ethan Zuckerman while they were both fellows at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University (both are friends), the nonprofit organization with no physical offices offers reports and translations from blogs and citizen media everywhere.
– Rebecca MacKinnon
I caught up with Rebecca several months ago to get an overview of the organization’s efforts. Global Voices’ importance and reach have grown even more pronounced during 2009 with the street demonstrations in Iran. Regular followers of Global Voices have been able to get a first-hand glimpse of events in all corners of the globe, from Africa and Southeast Asia to Oceana and South America. See their Special Coverage section and Top 10 video posts of 2009.
Rebecca, who also teaches journalism at the University of Hong Kong, describes Global Voices as a site where the editors curate the best of what bloggers are saying outside the Western blogosphere. “Where are the most interesting Middle Eastern and African bloggers and what are they talking about? What are Chinese bloggers saying?” The site’s bottom-line goal is to curate the most interesting conversations that will give you a different perspective on what’s happening around the world.
She also describes the goals of two Global Voices projects:
• Rising Voices: “One of the problems with blogs around the world is that bloggers tend to be the elites in many societies,” she says. So, with help from the Knight Foundation, they set up Rising Voices to give small grants to citizens groups around the world in disadvantaged communities to help people create citizen media, particularly blogs and videoblogs.
• Global Voices Advocacy: One problem is that when bloggers around the world start to speak out, some repressive governments have blocked sites and domain and put people in jail for blogging. The Advocacy arm of Global Voices advocates for the rights and interests of those bloggers.
Global Voices content is now translated by grassroots supporters into more than 15 languages.
Looking down the road, Rebecca says Global Voices is continuing to look at professional-amateur journalism partnerships. “How do we help professional journalists connect better with this global convnersation that’s taking place? How can they collaborate with bloggers to get stories out that aren’t getting reported?”
You should add a Global Voices RSS feed to your news reader — it’s a project that’s giving voice to people in some of the most disadvantaged spots on the globe.
• Check out the Kiva Fellows blog: Stories from the field
• Global Voices Online: Finding alternative revenue streams as a non-profit org (blogs.journalism.co.uk)
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