I'd like to imagine a world where an alternative global video news and documentary network has been established. A network that enables those in the areas most at-risk from human-trafficking, destruction of the environment, availability of deadly weapons worldwide, and internal disputes due to ethnic rivalries, competition for resources, and others. Such a network might have enabled Iraqis to learn from Rwandans and others about the dangers of ethnic conflict, and alternate realities behind its origins. It could enable those at risk from genocide or ethnic cleansing to speak directly to the international community rather than, as in Darfur, forcing refugees to depend on NGOs and States with their own agendas at work.
But the best thing about such a network is that its possible now. The only thing that limits our capability to build such a network is a moderate amount of funding and a vision. With the affordability of DV equipment, and more and more, HD and mpeg4 equipment, a broadcast quality mobile production studio, with archiving capabilities, can be outfitted for well under $10,000.00.
I believe within a few years time we can create an international network, with community video units, aka "bureaus" operating in five regions or more, producing and distributing content for their local community. However, what gets me really excited, is knowing that utilizing the internet we can now broaden the reach of those teams to one that is truly global. We can create a new "60 Minutes" style program, where the stories are defined by those most affected, where using twitter and blog commenting and other outlets the viewers and community members alike can drive the discussion and offer questions and feedback.
But we can also broaden our reach beyond video, utilizing tools such as Utterli to enable members of the community to make radio reports on an individual basis(see our work on Alive in Gaza), or partner with Ushahidi to assist mobile phone users to contribute from areas where a video unit has worked recently or is preparing to travel.
We can utilize video to build a focus, a groundswell of attention, and then broaden to other social media tools that in some communities will be better suited for long-term and regular usage.
Alive in Baghdad, as one of the most award-winning, though arguably one of the least-funded, web video projects, has shown the viability, the strength of this medium. We can distribute the stories of individuals and communities in crisis across not only their community, country, or continent, but the globe. In so doing, we may be able to curb many of the great intractable issues of our day.
All we need to accomplish this is possess the will to do it and, as always, a little funding.
We need your support to make this happen. If you're a grantwriter, or you know grantwriters, please write.
If you have suggestions about funding sources, or locations you'd like to see us put this model into action, please write.
If you have resources, whether funds, equipment, skills or otherwise that you'd like to contribue, please write.
Comment below or email us at smallworldnews at gmail dot com, and let us know how you can help or give us your own testaments about our work.
Together we can imagine a world of many voices, a big world made small. Together we can build Small World News.
Director, Small World News