In recent years, few major catastrophes have taken place without being captured through video, pictures, or tweets by ordinary citizens. Citizen journalists have reported on everything from the civil war in Syria, to natural disasters such as the 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan, to incidents of police brutality at Occupy protests.
This kind of raw documentation brings new complexity to the information landscape. It has created new avenues for news dissemination, and as more mainstream media outlets include citizen media in their reporting, it has changed and enhanced their coverage. However, there still is a gap between the mainstream media, with their large audiences, and these citizen journalists that must be bridged.
The newly launched project Irrepressible Voices (IV) aims to fill this gap by creating a platform that will connect online activists, bloggers, and citizen journalists with the mainstream media as well as with policy and decision makers.
Irrepressible Voices will focus explicitly on human rights. Users from all over the world are invited to securely upload their videos to the Irrepressible Voices platform. After content is uploaded to the platform, the IV team will verify the video’s content, discuss the problems depicted, and identify ways to advocate on the issue in question. This final step will often involve work with other NGOs working in this area. While the community interacts on the platform, IV will connect them with experts from partner institutions.
This short video provides a first impression of the topics that Irrepressible Voices wants to cover:
Irrepressible Voices came into being a year ago during the 5th Initiative on Human Rights and Internet by the Internet & Society Collaboratory. Bloggers from around the world were asked to send their video responses on how the Internet helps to enforce human rights.
The response confirmed the need for people to broadcast their living environment and realities. The Berlin-based Irrepressible Voices team (journalist and social entrepreneur Isabel Gahren, human rights expert Linda Walter, and Eike Leonhardt, a scientist at the Leibniz Information Centre for Economics) started Irrepressible Voices with the support of Futurechallenges.org and Internet & Society Collaboratory.
IV’s partners and media collaborators will help to reach an international audience and thereby increase awareness of their causes. Irrepressible Voices is already collaborating with Reporters without Borders Germany, Futurechallenges.org, Witness.org, Co:llaboratory, Social Impact Lab, and Sourcefabric.
The Irrepressible Voices website is still in its beta phase, but there are already some videos on the platform. The video above was produced in cooperation with Future Challenges and it shows how important the Internet is when it comes to human rights violations. Citizens from all over the world can raise awareness for their causes and make their voices heard.