Viewpoint: As news organisations have cut numbers, charities have availed themselves of the skills of experienced reporters – Published on The Independent, by Ian Burrell, March 26, 2012.
On the borders of Syria they are there, just as they were in the ruins of Misrata in Libya and among the crowds in Cairo’s Tahrir Square last year. Alongside hard-nosed war correspondents are a new breed of researchers from campaigning organisations, just as determined to get the scoop. They are hungry for documents from fallen regimes which might be evidence of human rights abuses. They are looking for eye-witnesses who can give testimony of war crimes. Such material is not only valuable to news organisations for their front pages and bulletins, it is potential gold dust for an NGO too.
The relationship between the news business and the charity sector has been drastically changed by internet technology. As traditional media has seen its business model undermined and been forced to close international bureaux, NGOs have realised the opportunities to become broadcasters themselves, publishing their material online and diffusing it through social media. Suddenly it is the NGOs, rather than the news media, which have the money to fly photojournalists on foreign assignments in search of images that will support an important campaign.
As news organisations have cut numbers, charities have availed themselves of the skills of experienced reporters who have forsaken the transience of the news agenda to commit themselves to a cause they feel passionately about. Andrew Hogg, news editor of Christian Aid, is a former editor of The Sunday Times “Insight” investigations team. He recently worked on the charity’s Death and Taxes report, which showed global companies were cheating the developing world out of $160bn a year in unpaid taxes. “The subjects you are looking at are really deeply important subjects for people on this planet who don’t have anyone to speak up for them,” he says.
The internet has driven change. “We still produce the old-fashioned press releases and reports,” says Steve Crawshaw, an experienced foreign correspondent who works for Amnesty International as director of the office of the Secretary-General. “But blogs can give more colour and context to the work we are doing on the Syrian border or in Benghazi or Tahrir Square, using a more personal tone of voice, like a correspondent would have done in the old days.”
The communications director of Human Rights Watch (HRW) in New York is Emma Daly, another Fleet Street veteran. “We’re doing investigative reporting, coming up with facts and writing about it,” she says. “We have been in print for a long time, but now we are broadcasters and online publishers of photojournalism, video and satellite imagery. And social media is really important to us” … (full text).
One woman with one camera can be an incredible force for good: WITNESS believes in the power of women and girls as activists, leaders and changemakers. This is why we have partnered with women on issues affecting their lives and their communities for nearly 20 years. Each of these women is striving for change:
- Rural Women and Girls of Eastern Congo Seek Justice as World Celebrates International Women’s Day, by Bukeni Waruzi, March 8, 2012;
- New Video the Government of Rio de Janeiro Doesn’t Want You to See, by Priscila Néri, December 14, 2011;
- TRUST: Jaime Lynn Butler Asks Our Leaders to Lead to Ensure a Just World and Healthy Environment;
- Watch the video: TRUST Arizona: Youth Ask Our Leaders to Lead to Ensure a Just World and Healthy Environment, 6.49 min, on YouTube;
The HUB, Important Update About The Hub:
- Homepage: the global platform for human rights media and action (1.04 min): The Hub has now shifted to an archive of human rights-related media uploaded to the site since its launch in December, 2007. All content on the Hub will remain accessible, but the uploading and commenting functionality have been turned off … (also in french and spanish);
- about the HUB;
- share it;
- video Advocacy Guides, Toolkits and Resources;
- WITNESS.org, Human Rights Videos, with Yvette Alberdingk Thijm, Executive Director of WITNESS;
- A list of 50 sites similar to HUB.witness.org.