Why do Journalists need Security?


Why do Journalists need Security?

Last week, at the Internet Freedom Festival in Valencia Spain, I was privileged to join a conversation lead by Latin American journalists and trainers discussing the importance of security in their work. Latin American trainers present spoke eloquently about the risks and their work supporting journalists in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador.

In 2014 the Committee to Protect Journalists reported about widespread impunity in the murder of journalists. Impunity has continued throughout last year, and even increased. The countries mentioned above may be the worst but are not the only countries in Latin America where murders of journalists routinely go unpunished.

The session invited participants to discuss not the risks to journalists, but instead the reasons why journalists need security. We approached the topic as journalists, considering the "5 W's of Journalistic Self-Protection.

While the session was advertised to be Spanish only, there was such a large turnout we hosted 5 breakout groups, two of which for English speakers. At the conclusion of the event, groups presented their report back on the reasons they discussed why, where, and when journalists need security, as well as how and what can be done to increase journalist security.

It was an engaging and valuable session, and it is especially important to bring the voices of journalists in Central America to the community of digital security and journalism trainers. I'm looking forward to hear more about their work, and discussing how Small World News can better support journalists in Central America to remain safe on the job. After the murder of two more journalists in Guatemala this week, it's clear that improving the security of journalists in Central America will remain a dire need for the foreseeable future.


Link: http://smallworldnews.com/blog/c0y62ortx6coxgdnuh99hf862d0dtq
A Q&A about Security First's Umbrella App


A Q&A about Security First's Umbrella App

Last fall, Security First released an interesting new app, Umbrella, that "provides all the advice needed to operate safely in a hostile environment." I've been looking forward to it's release, since hearing about it from their team at RightsCon last year in Manila. I had a bit of time to check the app out, and decided to send them a few questions to better understand their approach. I'll be providing my own review of Umbrella in another post, but you can see their responses to my questions below, posted in full. My questions are in bold.

Umbrella's technology tips seem to focus largely on non-mobile computers, such as desktops and laptops. Why did you focus so much on this type of computing?

Do you think a mobile app with tips focused primarily on desktop and laptop computers will be beneficial to most users?

·       We really wanted Umbrella to be an easily-accessible, but comprehensive, source of security advice. That means providing advice on how to operate securely across all your devices, whether mobile or otherwise – someone who uses a secure messaging app on their phone, yet still uses an insecure platform on their desktop is not operating securely. Plus digital security is only one element of what Umbrella addresses – it also covers the physical and psycho-social elements of security.

·       Moreover, we will actually be creating desktop interoperability for Umbrellain the coming year, so that users can also read the content and manage their checklists from their computer if they change between devices.

How did you decide what source materials to use?

·       Umbrella’s content has been sourced from best practice security manuals and digital security guides. It’s content which we have worked with in our trainings for years. Everything from ODI’s Good Practice Review and the ECHO Security Guide for Humanitarian Organisations to EFF’s Surveillance Self-Defense and Tactical Tech’s Security in a Box. There are 8 or 9 main sources that we reference and link to in the app, but the true scope of sources is an awful lot broader. Writing the content was a (very!) long process of reading all the relevant material we could find and trying to distil the advice.  (We found them by speaking to activists, journalists and humanitarian workers about what they currently refer to for digital and physical security and plain old research, which came to hundreds of documents and articles.) Where there were sources that already did that to some extent, and were a useful place to send users for further information, we’d reference them.

·       There are also some lessons, such as Counter-Surveillance and Meetings, that we wrote from scratch, based on the qualifications of team members, as there was no appropriate existing content.

Security in a Box is, at this time, quite dated, why did you look there as a primary source, and why do you think it's advice remains relevant?

·       I wouldn’t say that Security in a Box is Umbrella’s primary source. We do of course reference it a lot in the information and communications sections, because we wanted to direct users to where they could find more information wherever possible, and in many instances Security in a Box was one of the only available resources that thoroughly described a tool or problem.

·       There are obviously parts of Security in a Box that refer to tools which are no longer widely used, and we don’t push users to those parts I don’t think, but there are also some lessons that absolutely remain relevant and useful.

At SWN we've found that training tools and lessons that are heavy on information transfer can be hard for users to retain. did you consider more interactive means for users to engage with the material and demonstrate their understanding? Why did you not include quizzes or other methods besides text and checklists for users to assess their understanding and preparedness?

·       We couldn’t agree more! The checklists was our first attempt at making the content interactive/ adaptable and we can already see that they’re one of the most useful elements of the app. The only reason we haven’t included more yet comes down to time and resources. Our first grant was for building the primary content elements, but we’re now looking at how to better engage users by finding interactive ways to remind them of information, reinforce behaviour, and reward implementation. This will likely include elements such as adaptive quizzes, two or more player games for colleagues, testing, a ticket system for task completion, unlocking of levels, and instructive imagery and videos. We hope to work closely with SWN to utilise the knowledge and code you guys gained on StoryMaker!

How has adoption been so far?

·       Umbrella has been out for a few months now and has almost 2000 installs and that number is growing and picking up pace. We’re seeing large organisations and donors pushing it out to their partners and grantees – and we were delighted to see that, on a number of occasions, activists told them they were already using it. Most satisfying though, is individuals without connection to traditional NGO digital/physical security structures and training who come across it and find it useful. Especially as with Umbrella and our other work – we aim to bridge a gap which we see between these various fields. For example, humanitarians tend to be stronger on physical security but bad on digital, whereas human rights folks tend to be the opposite.

Are you getting much feedback from users?

·       The vast majority of Google Play reviews are 5 star, but obviously what we’re interested in is substantial feedback from people who we know are our target users, so that’s what we’ve been seeking out. It’s been really positive so far. We’ve been hearing that users are delighted to have all this information, on both digital and physical security, together in one easily-accessible place – many had previously been relying on huge, out-dated PDF manuals. People are really happy with usability and navigation, and also the interconnectedness of lessons and adaptability of checklists. We’ve had a lot of requests for translations (which we are working with OTF and the Localization Lab on), an iOS version and a desktop version. Some users are also looking for localised versions and the option of journo/activist/aid worker specific versions – so the ability to better tailor advice.

What can you say about who the users are, or can you tell me about a notable use case?

·       Our users are activists, journalists and aid workers. Because we don’t collect identifiable data on our users for security reasons, we can’t give you much quantitative information about who they are and where they’re from. However we’ve heard from direct and in-direct feedback that its being used by people such as activists in Egypt, Israel and Zimbabwe, journalists in Iran and Mexico, and aid workers in Afghanistan.

·       One of the most interesting uses we heard of recently was that of a Mexican journalist using Umbrella to prepare before heading out to a remote area in the mountains to cover the military operation searching for El Chapo Guzman – it was an interesting contrast with some more widely publicised security efforts!

What have you learned while creating Umbrella that you didn't expect?

·       Trust your teams instincts and experience. Balancing design and security wishes of users with their actual practices is tricky. For example, when conceptualising design issues around content, users told us they wanted lots of content and information, yet the reality once they got it was different – they wanted the opposite. Ditto some security features, for example, many initially told us they wanted to be forced to have to input a longer password each time they opened the app – yet once they got to the user testing point, you find that they disliked this, and retention with strong password requirement was low, so we had to find other ways to protect user information.

What are your next steps for Umbrella?

·       Right now we’ve just added support for Guardian Project Ripple. Their panic button sends a signal which closes Umbrella, logs the current user out and removes the app from recently used list.

·       In the coming year Umbrella’s development will be focused on three main areas:

  1. Increase Umbrella’s functionality: We want to add several functions toUmbrella: We want to help users streamline the process of preventative planning through sharable planning forms; We want toimprove users’ awareness of the specific risks they face by improving the dashboard functionality; We want to integrate existing tools where practical and safe to do so; and we want to allow for greater tailoring and customisation throughout the app.
  2. Broaden Umbrella’s access: Clearly, at-risk human rights defenders reside in more than English-speaking countries – we want to broaden access to as many languages as possible. We have already had requests for translation into many languages, but for practicality’s sake, we will begin with Arabic and Spanish before considering other languages. We also want to make sure that those with using desktops can also useUmbrella. (We plan to create an iPhone version of the app onceUmbrella 2.0 is complete)
  3. Improve content and usability of Umbrella: We want to ensure that each how-to guide is as clear, concise, intuitive and tailored to users in the field as possible. While the existing app is highly functional, we want to make sure it is a pleasure to use, so as to encourage retention. We want to better engage users by finding interactive ways to remind them of information, reinforce behaviour, and reward implementation. We obviously need to ensure that content remains up-to-date and relevant. We also want to improve the system for users contributing to and collaborating on content.

What else should I have asked you about that I didn't yet?

·       I liked this question from Al Jazeera a while back…

·       How will the app help an activist/journalist in case of an emergency situation such as arrest?

Umbrella can help users prevent as well as react to attacks. For instance, if an activist or journalist is going to partake in, or cover a protest, Umbrellatells you what precautions to take before you go, such as what tools you should download on your phone, what plans to make with colleagues, and how to evaluate the likely risks you’ll face. If something happens at the protest and the activist/journalist is arrested despite these precautions,Umbrella’s advice and the tools recommended will help them easily alert colleagues to their emergency and location, help them protect their work and contacts by encrypting their communications and devices (if safe and legal to do so), and help them understand how best to respond physically and mentally to arrest and questioning. It further helps users after such a situation occurs with practical advice on dealing with stress.



Link: http://smallworldnews.com/blog/a-qa-about-security-firsts-umbrella-app
Trainer Profile: Indira Cornelio


Trainer Profile: Indira Cornelio

This is the third in a series of profiles intended to showcase the trainers who work with Small World News and StoryMaker. We are very proud of our network of local trainers and want to share their stories with the global community of mobile media activists and educators.

Name: Indira Cornelio

Country: Mexico

Professional Experience: Indira has been working in ICT 4 social change since 2010. She has lead workshops in Mexico, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Argentina, and Colombia. Her work most often focuses on communication strategies, metrics, basic digital security, and multimedia production. She is currently studying media practice for development and Social Change at the University of Sussex. Prior to beginning her work in media development she studied Advertising and Public Relations.

How did you get into media training?

I started working on media training in a Mexican NGO called REDDES, where we started exploring and training in the use of digital tools for advocacy. Since then I have been training different groups in the use of digital tools to promote their causes, and working with them to use the tools they have in their hands.

I have been working with NGOs and advocates in Mexico and Nicaragua. In Nicaragua I worked with transgender women in a campaign called Somos Iguales a Vos, where we worked in generating content like graphics and video, to share with the population of Managua what is like to be transgender in the country.

In Mexico I have worked with different type of NGOs and causes. One of the latest projects I worked on was Voices of Women, a project where we gathered 20 women advocates to improve their media skills. We had 4 encounters in different parts of Central Mexico, where we introduced them in the use of video, photography, social media platforms and digital security. The NGOs that participated in the workshops are SocialTIC, La Sandia Digital, Subversiones and WITNESS.

Why do you think media training is important for your country, regionally, globally?

I believe it is important for advocates to learn how to use media, as nowadays they have access to a great amount of production tools, like digital platforms that can easily help them produce posters and infographics to better communicate their idea. They have mobile phones and cameras that are more affordable and allows them to film for documentation, or to produce videos to share their messages.

That is why the media training is so important. Now the tools are in their hands but it is extremely important for them to learn how to use the tools strategically, how to create  compelling messages and how to improve their distribution.

What was an experience that illustrates why training is important to you?

One of the greatest experiences was working with transgender women in Nicaragua in a campaign called Somos Iguales a Vos. I learned how meaningful and life-changing teaching digital media skills can be. It can help another person realize the many things she is capable of doing and a new way to share her story.

Somos Iguales a Vos is a transgender women initiative based in Managua, after working with them over a year, they learnt how to use video, how to create infographics, how to intervene streets to approach to the people and deliver their message. As we started with the process, the people that formed the collective started identifying what type of media they felt more comfortable with, some of them identifying blogging as a way to share their stories, some of them used more infographics, and others started working on ideas to produce vlogs (videoblogs) and to interview people in the streets about daily Nicaraguan issues.

For communities like transgender in countries like Nicaragua, it is sometimes hard to deal with the discrimination and violence in the street, so we worked on scripts to ask people about transgender rights as a way to get them to talk about the topic. Video became a tool for them to start a conversation.

Tell us one thing you would like to share with people who might be interested in media development but have no experience.

Sharing your skills and helping others take advantage of the tools they have already in their hands is one of the most enriching experiences.

Tell us about the media scene in Mexico.

The media collectives in Mexico are playing a very important role nowadays as witnesses and dissemination points of the hard human right abuses that are happening. Stories about gender violence, kidnaps, drug cartels violence are not being shared by mainstream media and now it is an alternative option or struggle to keep on telling these stories.

In cases like Ayotzinapa it has been the alternative media like Subversiones and collectives like Rexiste who have worked to document and keep on with the story, supporting the people involved.



Link: http://smallworldnews.com/blog/trainer-profile-indira-cornelio
StoryMaker 2 Officially Launched


StoryMaker 2 Officially Launched

We are proud to announce the release of StoryMaker version 2.0 out of Beta!

Get it today: Download StoryMaker 2

It has been just over a year since the generous support of StoryMaker Coalition member Free Press Unlimited enabled us to rethink the interface and core functionality of the app in the fall of 2014. StoryMaker was originally imagined as a tool to help anyone learn to make and share better stories, with or without internet access. The ongoing support of Free Press Unlimited enables us to release StoryMaker 2.0 today out of beta. The coordinator of Free Press Unlimited's work on StoryMaker, Bethel Tsegaye, had this to say, "We have seen citizen reporters go from amateur storytellers to professional journalists, making professional quality stories. The app enables  journalist to report on issues as they happen. With StoryMaker, people realize even more how powerful their smartphones are in getting voices heard."

The final release out of beta comes with the inclusion of a Catalog of new content packs. These content packs are separated into three categories:  Lessons, Guides, and Templates. StoryMaker Product Manager Steve Wyshywaniuk explains the release of StoryMaker 2.0 this way, “StoryMaker 2 is a step forward for media training. We now have our entire curriculum localized for Persian and Kirundi speakers, as well as the original Arabic curriculum. The ability for users to learn a new concept and practice immediately with an activity will help people learn much faster.”

In this video, Steve demonstrates some of the key features newly available in StoryMaker 2.0.

The release of StoryMaker 2 coincides with the fifth anniversary of the Egyptian government’s decision to disconnect the internet, virtually cutting off the rest of the world. Applications which depended on the internet to create and share content, or learn new skills could not function. One of our initial goals was to create a tool that anyone could use to learn and create their own stories, regardless of connectivity. We’ll soon be deploying StoryMaker 2 to Cuba, where internet connectivity is virtually nonexistent. The ability to load content packs from a computer will be key to helping users who are largely offline and receive software largely by manual, offline distribution.

Brian Conley, head of training and curriculum at Small World News expressed his excitement at finally releasing the powerful new catalog to the public, “Ever since we tested the theory of putting our training exercises directly into StoryMaker, with step-by-step guidance, I’ve been excited to get our guides into the hands of users. This year I’m looking forward to building on our new guides, Mobile Photo Basics and Learn to Make Better Video, and releasing a lot more.”

The StoryMaker Coalition is a collaboration between Small World News, Scal.io, The Guardian Project and Free Press Unlimited to develop and implement theStoryMaker application. The Coalition has trained more than 700 journalists, human rights defenders, and aidworkers working in more than 20 countries. At the time of writing, the StoryMaker app has been downloaded by more than 140,000 users around the world, including journalists, civil society members, and activists.

*This post edited to add StoryMaker Coalition text and quote from Free Press Unlimited. 



Link: http://smallworldnews.com/blog/storymaker-2-out-of-beta
A Year of Big Goals for Small World News


A Year of Big Goals for Small World News

2015 has been a year of many changes at Small World News, beginning with the decision to hire longtime collaborator John Smock as Interim Director. Over the past year, we’ve seen that decision bear fruit in many ways. As a team, we started this year with some big goals: We reworked StoryMaker. We developed several new guides and resources. We did a comprehensive redesign of our site to better promote our existing materials and core competencies. And, we worked on several cool projects with partners active in places like Cuba, Libya and Iran.

2015 was a very productive year for Small World News. Under John’s guidance we’ve launched a redesigned site. The site features regular blog posts aimed at better engaging the community of activists, journalists and media trainers was a core theme. Our posts have profiled fellow trainers, shared news about our work, our colleagues, and provided a platform to better share our experience..

In the past year we’ve produced seven new learning tools, from the massive Persian localization of our StoryMaker Introduction Series, to the Mobile Photo Basics course, and a curriculum for a one-day Mobile Video Workshop, as well as a rethinking of our guides on producing individual stories for audio, photo and video. These guides complement work from the previous year, including our Social-First journalism guide, the Kirundi-localization of our Introduction Series, and radio scripts for training citizens to help them collaborate with professional journalists -- even with phones that have only basic SMS and voice capability .

This has been a hard year for journalists, including our colleagues in Morocco. Although their trial has been postponed, it has not been cancelled as we’d hoped. In addition to our colleagues, citizen journalists and activists continue to be targeted by governments around the world. In 2016 we aim to continue supporting journalists around the world to learn the skills they need to act ethically and responsibly, and resist media suppression.

As we close out the year we’ll be hard at work prepping the new learning modules and finalizing a big update to StoryMaker 2. This work will result in the release of StoryMaker 2 out of beta.

With all the work we have ahead of us, this will be our last post for the year. We’ll  be back in January and are looking forward to announce not only the forthcoming release of StoryMaker 2, but other exciting new developments as well.


Link: http://smallworldnews.com/blog/a-year-of-big-goals-for-small-world-news
Journalism Education: Still Critical for StoryMaker


Journalism Education: Still Critical for StoryMaker

Before StoryMaker even had a name we envisioned a tool to help citizen journalists, activists and amateurs to make content with strong storytelling quality and the highest journalistic standards. Three years later, that goal is just as important as ever.

Social media continues to be a vector for sharing rumors, untruth, and inaccuracy. The vector seems to be getting worse, whether it’s a political candidate claiming Muslims celebrated the September 11th attacks (they didn’t) or news outlets on Twitter sharing reports that imply a passport found near the body of one of the Paris attackers proved he was a Syrian refugee (it didn’t).

The easy availability of fact-based and accurate information is one of the most effective tool for combatting rumors and propaganda. Communities need nuanced, intelligent journalism that endeavors to get the story behind the story. In countries where the media is still emerging, or tightly controlled, journalism education is critical. We want to ensure StoryMaker can help individuals become journalists and contribute to creating an informed public.

Education and Critical thinking is essential to an informed public. We are in the process of producing a large collection of new guides for use in StoryMaker. In addition to the Mobile Photo Basics pack, we’re producing a series of packs that will help you craft the story you want, make news reports, and even host your own mobile video workshop.

Inside the StoryMaker app and online via our wiki you’ll soon be able to access the revamped StoryMaker lessons as the “Introduction Series,” in several languages. In addition we are exploring guides on a variety of themes:

  • News Reporting - These new guides will focus on providing users with straightforward instruction about collecting and presenting all the relevant information on the topic they are reporting. Thus far in StoryMaker we have provided users guides primarily via a “New” button, but this requires users to answer questions each time they want to start a story. Instead we will provide guides user can access by choosing a specific medium or a specific format for story they want to make.

  • Specific Stories or Events - We realize that users may also be most interested in looking at guides based on how to report on a specific topic, such as a protest, election, or breaking news event. The revamped lesson catalogue will let users do that.  The guides will be selections taken from the more general reporting guides, edited slightly to focus on the specific topic.

  • Journalistic Standards in Reporting - Finally we’re examining some new lessons to improve user’s ability to meet journalistic standards. These will focus on technical skills such as recording narration, as well as qualitative skills such as how to make ethical choices when reporting breaking news.


Link: http://smallworldnews.com/blog/journalism-education-still-critical-for-storymaker
Morocco: Colleagues on Trial


Morocco: Colleagues on Trial

On Thursday, November 19th, several trainers affiliated with Small World News and our partner Free Press Unlimited will go on trial in Morocco, accused of threatening the security of the state. SWN is appalled at the Moroccan authorities’ mistreatment of our colleagues in particular and journalists in general. Today we hope you will take a stand with us and call on the Moroccan government to void their charges.

You can take action by signing this letter from Frontline Defenders, and sending it on to Morocco’s Minister of Justice.

Small World News first worked with journalists and activists in Morocco when we ran a Training of Trainers workshop in Rabatin June, 2013. SWN co-founder Brian Conley found trainees ambitious to increase the independence of Moroccan media and improve the quality of journalism in the country. The Centre Ibn Rochd d'Etudes et de Communication (the Ibn Rochd Centre for Communications Studies) has held numerous workshops since our ToT. But nearly one year ago, after increasing pressure from the Moroccan government, the Centre announced it would close at the end of 2014.

After a campaign of harassment including confiscation of mobile phones for use in a mobile journalism training, investigations were opened into a number of trainers involved with the Ibn Rochd Centre. Initially Samad Ayach, project coordinator at the Centre, was interrogated, and banned from traveling. Since August, three other trainers have been interrogated in relation to these activities: Maria Moukrim, Karima Nadir, and Hicham Mansouri. Hicham is currently in prison on a charges of adultery. He maintains the charge is a reprisal for his critique of the Moroccan government.

As a result of the investigations, each of these individuals as well as Maati Monjib, former director of the Ibn Rochd Centre, Mohamed Elsabr, and Rachid Tarek, are facing a trial that begins this Thursday, November 19th. Today we join Free Press Unlimited and twelve other organizations, including the Committee to Protect Journalists and Article 19, calling for the Moroccan authorities to drop all charges against our colleagues. Free Press Unlimited has written a statement of support for the Moroccan trainers soon to face trial.

According to Human Rights Watch the Moroccan authorities “have increasingly suffocated independent media, which flourished in the 2000s. A mix of police harassment, unfair trials delivering heavy fines to outspoken journalists and media, and royal palace-orchestrated advertisement embargoes drove many independent newspapers to close.”

At Small World News we stand for the idea that there are no free societies without freedom of the press. We hope you will join us in expressing solidarity for our colleagues in Morocco and calling for their charges to be dismissed. These charges and their chilling effect on press freedom are a threat to us all.

Small World News trainer Mohamed Nasri contributed to this post.


Link: http://smallworldnews.com/blog/morocco-colleagues-on-trial



It seems every few months [insert shiny new thing here] becomes the future of journalism. Drones are the latest harbinger of journalism’s future. The first time I heard the term “dronealism” my immediate response was “here we go again.” I’ve continued to feel that way dozens of times since, each time I hear some variation of: “Drones are going to revolutionize journalism!”

After speaking with Faine Greenwood, co-author of new report on drones, last week about her work examining the role of drones in mapping and humanitarian work, I’ve had to rethink my position. First I’d like to make it clear why I think chasing “the future of journalism” is, by and large, nothing more than a clickbait trope. The American Press Institute’s Journalism Essentials reminds us:

“The purpose of journalism,” write Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel in The Elements of Journalism, “is not defined by technology, nor by journalists or the techniques they employ.”... “The purpose of journalism is thus to provide citizens with the information they need to make the best possible decisions about their lives, their communities, their societies, and their governments.”

It’s that second point showed me why I need to rethink my attitude toward drones. Faine pointed me to several articles on drones, the one that gives me the most cause to rethink my attitude is about the role drones are playing in providing Indonesian indigenous peoples all-important information that helps them protect their land.

Radjawali’s drones helped the Dayaks of Sanggau Regency in West Kalimantan to successfully challenge a bauxite mine in court,” Explains Greenwood. “The high-definition maps were hard to argue with, and an indigenous representative was able to challenge the mining company in court.”

This video from the Guardian demonstrates there is obviously a place for drones in documenting mass humanitarian events such as the refugee migration through the Balkans:

However, I would like to leave you with one caveat, while drones may have a place in “The future of citizen journalism,” drones aren’t the answer to everything and likely will never be present truly everywhere. Drones are best used when an individual, journalist or otherwise, sets out to document a specific project for which aerial imagery will provide the best documentation.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that in some communities, drones have a connotation that may never be friendly to the community. In countries like Yemen and Pakistan where drones have become synonymous with civilian deaths, drone journalism’s enthusiasts will have a very hard time gaining broad support from the community.

Smartphones, however, are always with us. They are a tool that has many uses, of which documenting socially important and journalistic events is only an added feature. It’s hard to imagine a future in which smartphones will become less ubiquitous than they are today.

It’s equally difficult to imagine a future where drones become so ubiquitous that they prove DJI Director of Photography  Eric Cheng’s bold claims true: “A protest, an accident, a disaster, someone’s going to be there streaming from it.”

The next time someone tells you [insert shiny new thing here] is the future of journalism, be sure to ask them, “How does [shiny new thing] help provide citizens with the information they need to make the best possible decisions about their lives, their communities, their societies, and their governments?”

Unless someone is paying for the creation of that information, or the tools and techniques are as ubiquitous as smartphones, it’s probably not the future of journalism, though it may well have a role to play.

It’s becoming obvious to me that drones have a role to play in documenting not only disasters, but news events, increasing the accessibility of geospatial information, and helping us better understand our world.


Link: http://smallworldnews.com/blog/dronealism
Trainer Profile: Mohamed Nasri


Trainer Profile: Mohamed Nasri

This is the second in a series of profiles intended to showcase the trainers who work with Small World News and StoryMaker. We are very proud of our network of local trainers and want to share their stories with the global community of mobile media activists and educators.

Name: Mohamed Nasri

Country: Tunisia

Professional Experience:  Mohamed Nasri is based in Kasserine, Tunisia. He graduated with a degree in Business English. Most of his professional work has been related to computers and new technologies. He operated an Internet cafe and has worked repairing computer hardware and software. At the outset of the Tunisian Revolution, Mohamed  worked as a local fixer and contact in Kasserine for French and German news agencies covering the revolution and the aftermath.

How did you get into media training?

Media training is a dream for me. In May 2013 i got the chance to participate in a Training of Trainers (ToT) workshop in Morocco, organised by Free Press Unlimited. I was invited by Small World News co-founder Brian Conley to work as a fixer and then as a workshop participant and translator. Since then, the doors have been opened and a new world has been set for me. I have worked with Small World News on two more projects in Tunisia and as a regional coordinator on other efforts in North Africa.

Why do you think media training is important for your country, regionally, globally?

Training for me is a new world because I know how important media training is to my country. We were –– and still are –– living in a post-revolution period of development.  Freedom of expression is a master key for success,. The media is an important tool for giving people a voice, but within marginalised regions people are still unable to voice their needs and their opinion. They have no opportunity to tell their stories to the national or international media. That is why Media training in these regions is key. We need to teach people in these regions to tell their own stories. Media Training reduces the gap between regions and allows media to be produced by the people for the people.

What was an experience that illustrates why training is important to you?

As a trainer I will never forget the media scene in Sebha, Southern Libya in 2013. In September of that year Small World News did a training there. The region was in a state of chaos –– like so many other provincial regions in North Africa. Training in situations like this are important because they encourages people to tell important stories and asking questions of government for themselves. I would like to see citizens everywhere more involved in building real democracy, and this is done only by training and convincing people that the future of their country is in their own hands.

Tell us one thing you would like to share with people who might be interested in media development but have no experience.

For those who might be interested in media development but have no experience, I want to tell them STOP saying “I wish” and start saying “I will.” Always do your best even if you have no experiences, Whatever you plant today, you will harvest tomorrow.

Tell us about the media scene in Tunisia

In post-revolution Tunisia a lot has changed. We now enjoy a great deal of  freedom –– freedom of belief, freedom of expression. Tunisian media is now providing a more diverse coverage. Numerous media outlets have sprung up since the old regime was ousted. Tunisians now have access to a wide range of print, broadcast and online sources. We are now talking about alternative and participative media, which is something new for a country who still living in Transitional period.

This new, more engaged approach will encourage every citizen to be part of building democracy for the whole country.


Link: http://smallworldnews.com/blog/trainer-profile-mohamed-nasri
Advocating for Ethical Photos

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Advocating for Ethical Photos

Ethics in journalism, and media creation is something we at Small World News think a lot about. We have produced an average of one new curriculum a year over the last 4 years, not counting localizations of the StoryMaker materials. Each of these provides an entire section focused on teaching Ethics. We are continuously thinking about how to better teach ethics in photography, because too often in the classroom, our students see ethics as an afterthought. Good journalism is about serving the community, and ethics are fundamental to putting the community first.

This is why I was very excited to see our friends at Reboot publish: “Does This Picture Make You Feel Sad? Practical Questions for Ethical Photography.” Reboot is a social impact firm dedicated to inclusive development and accountable governance. The author, Lauren Gardner, explains Reboot’s principles for photo documentation, and the importance of continuing to innovate and evolve their approach, in order to use photos ethically.

I met one of Reboot’s founders, Zack Brisson, in 2009, when he was still working with the Enough Project, an organization dedicated to ending genocide and crimes against humanity. Since Reboot launched in 2010 they have grown dramatically and are doing fantastic work in the area of evaluating impact and improving the inclusivity of development and government programs.

A year ago Reboot shared their principles for “a more empathetic approach to taking and using photos.” It’s admirable to see an NGO take this step, but even more so how they acknowledged in their recent post that it’s been “surprisingly hard to operationalize these guidelines consistently.” Lauren Gardner writes:

A camera is obtrusive. Before taking a single frame, Patrick Ainslie, one of our skilled photographers, gradually introduces it as a non-threatening object. He walks into an interview with the camera slung over his shoulder. As the trust and conversation builds, he progressively makes it more visible—first by putting it on a table, then holding it in his hands.

This is very similar to what we advise, and what photojournalist Amina Ismail recommends in this video from one of our lessons on Ethics in the StoryMaker 1 journalism curriculum. Ismail is Egyptian and covered the country’s 2011 revolution:

I hope you will read their post for yourself, but I want to point out one technique it emphasize, which I found particularly interesting. Reboot doesn’t just explain abstractly to the subject of the photograph how the image will be use. Each of Reboot’s photographers carries, as part of a kit, laminated examples of how photographs may be used.

I find myself largely in agreement with the principles outlined in the post, except for in two areas.I think the disagreement may be due in part to the distinction between SWN’s focus on journalism and fact-based storytelling vs Reboot’s focus on ensuring inclusivity in development work.

Reboot’s policy forbids using imagery that conveys “sadness.” I would never suggest a journalist or documentarian avoid this kind of imagery, however I do teach that journalists must always make an effort to never stage, stereotype, or objectify the subject of an image in order to increase the emotional impact or advocate a specific message.

Finally, Reboot’s Lauren Gardner writes “Our journalistic instincts may steer us toward an image that’s powerful, but that we don’t have permission to use, doesn’t respect the dignity of its subject, or just isn’t right for the context.” There is the potential to read this as if it implies journalists don’t consider permission, subject’s dignity or context. This suggests to me that Lauren believes journalists don’t consider these important issue. I believe she’s wrong, but that itself emphasizes the continuing importance and necessity of teaching ethics in journalism, and an ongoing need to rethink and innovate how we teach ethics.

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Link: http://smallworldnews.com/blog/advocating-for-ethical-photos-1