Producing For an International Audience

Nichole Stewart - Fighting for Freedom: Global Voices Uses International Collaboration to Provide a Borderless Online Community
Jake Macfarlane's picture Jake Macfarlane 2 years 6 months ago
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I chose a website that not only aims for inclusivity of culture but also demonstrates the same strategies of online international collaboration as GCN to bring its initiatives to a global audience. Globalvoice.org, which describes itself as a "borderless community," creates conversations with its audience by featuring citizen derived reporting from 167 countries, translated into over 40 languages. Global Voices aims to connect people and build relationships by curating and spreading news that often gets silenced in marginalized or misrepresented areas of the world. The content is provided by writers, bloggers, and "digital activists" and is an independent, non-profit project that grew out of an international bloggers meeting, started up at Harvard and is now incorporated in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

    I started my search with the tabs that are organized by parts of the world: Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe, Middle East and then onto general hubs like Politics, Culture, and Human Rights.  I was blown away by the diversity, variety and comprehensive options available to navigate. I first clicked on an article under Africa about the Kenyan Blog Awards which is hosted by BAKE (the Bloggers Association of Kenya), an organization that showcases Kenyan online content creators and even offers digital training programs. It was inspiring to see the smiling faces of the 2016 Blog Awards recipients...and all females! I headed over to the Human Rights tab which lead me to Global Voices' weekly podcast titled Are You Listening? This week's episode was called Faces of the Resistance, telling the stories of oppression and discrimination faced by individuals from India, Japan, Australia, Mexico and Trinidad and Tobago. The podcast was riveting and stands on its own as an informative showcasing of international collaboration and creative storytelling. It's available on Soundcloud and sources its music and images from Creative Commons, continuing the mission to curate content openly, freely, and from across the globe.

    At the top of the site there is a drop down tab displaying a massive listing of language options to choose from. Ensuring this sort of accessibility to its media is so valuable in reaching international readers and listeners. The site uses volunteer translators "to ensure that language is not a barrier to understanding and embracing all people and stories."

    There is also a very impactful and tangible benefit that Global Voices provides which is their advocacy work to protect bloggers who face real-world threats in their attempts at free online speech. This is a luxury afforded to all Canadians that is often overlooked and unappreciated. Their sister site is for this very purpose and is called Advox.globalvoices.org, an anti-censorship network. I was disturbed to read the account of a Palestinian journalist, Al-Saai, who was seized by Palestinian Intelligence and tortured for days after being charged over Facebook posts. He believes his previous investigative work on political prisoners was the pretext for the arrest. In prison, Al-Saai was kept awake for days, starved, hung from doorframes and injected four times a day with an unknown drug. It's these terrifying accounts that Global Voices is trying to expose at the forefront of their fight for free press.

    It reminded me of my tour through NBC Studios in New York a year ago. I was anticipating exciting glimpses into the sets, rehearsal processes, and tapings of my favourite iconic shows like Saturday Night Live, Tonight show with Jimmy Fallon, and Late Night with Seth Meyers, which I got! But they also lead me through a somber display of aged notepads, bulletproof vests, dented helmets, damaged cameras and satellite phones, and photographs of the journalists the network has lost throughout the decades of reporting in conflict and on September 11th, 2001.

    This memory, along with the shifting emotional ups and downs of exploring Global Voices' content only served as a reminder that producing media goes beyond the creativity, the glamour, and the money making business of it; At its core it's about possessing the freedom to deliver those stories to the rest of the world without risking censorship, imprisonment, and loss of life. North American audiences, while teetering in this shaky and formidable political climate, need to seek out these online networks and communities that aim to bring people together rather than separate us. The power of international collaboration through social online networks eliminates borders, informs us, and most importantly: unifies us as one voice. I think we need that now more than ever, don't you?