New Guide Maps Social-First Strategy for Media Organizations

Get the PDF Now It’s no secret that news organizations old and new, large and small, are trying to figure out how to best leverage social media and mobile tools to enhance reporting and build audience. Here is what doesn’t work: a haphazard or tacked-on use of mobile/social based on little more than how we use […]


Mobile Matters in Afghanistan

There are lots of reasons why mobile devices are replacing computers as the primary platform for social media and citizen journalism. Mobiles are portable. They can shoot photo and video. They are cheaper than computers. In Afghanistan there are some additional advantages to mobiles. A computer will get the attention of Taliban at a checkpoint. […]

11 StoryMaker-SMALL

StoryMaker in Sarajevo

When floods gripped the Balkans, Radio Slobodna realized the agency needed a new approach to effectively cover the events. Several reporters lost their recording equipment. Where this wasn’t the case, the tools of radio reporting were just not enough to completely tell the story. Radio could impart how citizens felt, but lacked the kind of […]


Educating Afghans by Radio

Ahead of the Afghan Presidential election, Impassion Afghanistan approached Small World News about creating a citizen journalism curriculum for delivery by radio. Given our previous experience in the country, particularly during the 2009 and 2010 elections, we were excited at the opportunity. The goal was simple, teach Afghan’s to participate in the Paiwandgah citizen journalism […]


UN OCHA Begins StoryMaker Training

When crises strike, the United Nations Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), is consistently among the first institutions to intervene.. On the scene when violence recently re-ignited in the Central African Republic and immediately responsive to devastation caused by the 2012 typhoon that struck Tacloban in the Philippines, OCHA field officers are among few […]

Tattered tents bake in the sun in Ruweishid, Jordan. Many Iraqis became stranded here in 2006 after fleeing violence in neighboring Iraq. shot by Brian Conley

Asynchronous Social Media

I spend a lot of time thinking about how to tell stories better. Everyday emerging technology is altering the way we think of storytelling. Storytelling choices and methods should be rooted in a clear understanding of your goals and specific needs. These goals must also be tempered by your available resources. Finally you want to […]


Affordable StoryMaker Mobile Production Kit: A Review

Getting started with mobile production? Let’s look at the gear you’ll need. Smartphones have become default cameras for a lot of people, especially because “the camera you use is the camera you have.” A new twist is that a data connection and the ability to upload from the field makes a camera live– crucial for […]

Help Us Translate StoryMaker with Transifex

English is the global language, no question about it. Everywhere we go in our work, no matter how isolated the area, we are always surprised to meet young people who greet us in American-accented English filled with idioms gleaned from The Simpsons. Yet working with English as a second (or third or fourth!) language, especially […]


A Basic Guide to Using Microphones with Mobiles

Small World News develops educational and training materials to support its core mission of expanding the reach of local storytellers in zones of crisis, conflict, and transition. Our guides are designed to make technology approachable for anyone motivated to capture a story, while providing information that has a demonstrable effect on raising the quality of […]

Covering the Water Crisis in Zimbabwe

According to UNICEF, more than 60 per cent of Zimbabwe’s rural water supply infrastructure is in disrepair. Urban water services have also deteriorated, leading to widespread inconvenience for the residents of high-density suburbs, and even outbreaks of cholera. Mobile Community Zimbabwe has given residents of areas affected by the water crisis the tools to bring […]

Medium Shot

Teaching Composition in StoryMaker

When you’re just starting out taking photos or videos, learning proper framing is the first step to making good images. A lot of amateur photo and video is hampered by poor framing choices– bad use of space, a distracting background, an odd placement of subjects will all distract the audience from your intended goal. In […]

Credit: John Smock

Videos from Germa News Brought to You by StoryMaker

In September, Small World News worked with the Germa News Agency in Sebha, Libya to begin integrating StoryMaker into their production workflow. We’re proud to announce that they will be leveraging StoryMaker as their primary tool for multimedia reporting. Combining StoryMaker with affordable, cutting edge android-based devices and entry-level accessories enabled Germa to produce a […]

Tell Stories Safely! StoryMaker is Private by Design

Now more than ever we’re seeing the danger journalists and activists alike face covering protests and conflicts. When they depend on digital tools, and in particular mobile communications, they face a new set of threats that require new strategies to stay safe. Yet no amount of risk will stop the bravest witnesses from documenting what goes on […]


StoryMaker at Work: Mobile Community Zimbabwe

Earlier this year, Small World News was privileged to participate in an innovative and exciting project to bring stories out of Zimbabwe, a country where citizens are sidelined by a repressive government and a lack of press freedom. A rigged election in July 2013 maintained the rule of Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party, further […]


Trainee Profile: Mustafa from Ghat

Author: John Smock Photographer: John Smock Sometimes during trainings you get participants who arrive with solid skills and a developed drive to be better journalists. It’s great when it happens. More often you get participants with little experience, an opaque idea of what journalism is and a stifling lack of confidence. The single most rewarding […]


StoryMaker Downloads Surpass 5,000

Small World News can announce today that its StoryMaker app has been downloaded more than 5,000 times by Android users in the U.S., Europe, Africa and the Middle East. In April 2013 SWN released the beta version of StoryMaker, an open-source Android app that helps anyone create great video, photo, and audio stories using their […]

Credit: John Smock

Gearing up the Germa in Sebha, Libya

Author: Brian Coney Photographer: John Smock The Germa or Garama people lived in the Fezzan region of southern Libya starting from approximately 3000 years ago. The Germa News Agency, based in Sebha, takes its name from this ancient civilization. I am currently in Sebha, Libya, with my co-trainers, John Smock and Mohamed Nasri. Germa, launched by IWPR […]

Credit: John Smock

Accelerating Journalism in Remote Southern Libya

Author: John Smock Photographer: John Smock September 23, 2013– We arrived in Sebha, a wind-swept Saharan town about 400 miles south of Tripoli, almost a week ago. Originally built around a hilltop fort, Sebha for centuries worked as a crossroads through the desert. Today it’s a military town and the regional hub for agriculture and […]

Free Libya Graffiti

Libya, Two Years Later

by Jonathan Pednault Squeezed between the sea and the walls of the old city, the Corinthia hotel once droned with swarms of squatting journalists and activists that anxiously awaited the capture of colonel Gaddafi, drinking pitch-dark Nescafés on tables coated with ashes and unwashed plates of half-eaten meals. Nowadays, the luxurious building has reverted to […]

Istanbul Blog Post

Working With Syrians in Istanbul

This account of SWN’s workshop for Syrian media producers in partnership with IWPR was written by Mark Rendeiro, whose work can be seen at A podcast featuring students from the workshop can be heard here. This past April, Louis Abelman and myself went to Istanbul to give a video story telling workshop specifically for […]


4 Ted Talks Worth Watching

The International Center for Journalists’ IJNet and Mashable recently recommended Brian Conley’s Tedx talk as one of “4 Ted Talks Worth Watching.” You can check out Brian’s talk below, and then see the others on Margaret Looney’s original article. Citizen Journalism is Reshaping the World

Tunisia Road Trip

Testing on the Road in Tunisia

We are fast approaching the release date of our multimedia storytelling app. In recognition of this, Steve and I have been doing some field testing with local colleagues, to work out any last minute kinks and get an overall sense of the functionality and reliability of the framework we’ve prepared. One of our primary angles […]


Shoot 24 Shots

In the last few weeks I’ve been watching even more news then I normally do, and watching the same clips over and over again to better understand the skeleton that makes up a story. I began recording the packages and breaking them down afterwards. I’ve started with Al Jazeera first, and I have only done it […]


Finding Formulas in Filmmaking

As part of our forthcoming multimedia storytelling app, we are working on simplifying video composition. One of the app’s primary features is to provide training to the users. Each user will be able to improve her multimedia production skills as she learns to use the app. In order to ensure the app provides the greatest […]


How Much Security is Enough?

As Steve wrote last week, Small World News is developing a new mobile multimedia reporting app for Android. This app will also include an entire mobile multimedia reporting curriculum, including journalism and digital safety and security basics. We will be adapting our Guide to Safely Producing Media where appropriate and working with our colleagues John […]

Start Screen

SWN Developing New Mobile App with Guardian Project

Small World News is excited to announce that we are designing a yet to be named android app. The app will support citizen journalists and professionals alike in the production of multimedia news packages. Specifically, this open source app enables existing and aspiring journalists all over the world to produce and publish professional-grade news with […]


Shooting Environmental Portraits

This one-day workshop harnessed two powerful resources for rebuilding Libya: students and photojournalism. Small World News partnered with 1Libya, a Tripoli-based NGO working on civil society, communications and media development, to host the workshop. The 12 university student participants brought loads of enthusiasm and creative energy. This generation of Libyan has grown up on the […]


Tempering Enthusiasm with Professionalism

The Misrata trainees have so far done justice to their town’s reputation as a hard-working, can-do kind of place, and are well on their way to fulfilling the mission we set out: to produce four videos in four days. They seemed to be satisfied with our second day spent covering production basics, as many of […]

Louis Addresses Trainees

Misrata Workshop Day One

Our second workshop is being held at the office of the Misrata Media Union. The MMU is an organization that hopes to work for the support of all Misrati journalists. They provided Small World News a warm welcome. They have a large conference room more befitting an executive boardroom than a training space. I’m learning […]

Misrata 1

Second Workshop: Misrata May 13-16

Tonight we’ve arrived in Misrata, the site of our next workshop. The city lies along the Mediterranean coast 187 km (116 miles) east of Tripoli and is Libya’s third largest, a commercial hub hit hard by the war. It’s been a year since revolutionaries cleared the city of Qadaffi loyalists after months of deadlocked fighting, […]


Tripoli – Four Days, Four Videos.

Small World News just completed the first in a series of video boot camps around Libya. Our first location was the capital, Tripoli. Several trainees work for television stations and production companies, while some are freelancers. We covered the basics of civic journalism, visual storytelling, and video production. First we asked the trainees to propose […]


Bootstrapping Libyan Producers

Small World News is in Libya for the third time since the revolution began. Although the revolutionary edge of the nation’s enthusiasm may have subsided, the enthusiasm itself has not. Libyans are excited to build their country, and actively looking for partners to provide assistance and mentorship. This desire led directly to the creation of […]


Clarity through Data

Our partners and colleagues over at the Engine Room are dedicated to organizing the best practices and experiences in the world of tech development. Taking what they find and openly sharing it for all of our benefit. This is why it’s important for all of us to take their social tech census. By pooling our knowledge together […]

Thumbnail from Ahmed Khalaf

Storytellers not Drones

The shaky footage and highly zoomed images of smoke, helicopters and gunfire have become hallmarks of visual reporting on events in Syria. With the increasing risks and mounting death toll of foreign journalists, citizen journalists have become an increasingly necessary source of information from Syria. The increasing carnage has also led to an increasing insistence […]

María Elizabeth Macías Castro's killers left this note. (AFP)

Time to Watch Our Own Backs

A confluence of recent events are highlighting an overlooked issue in Information Communications Technology (ICT) security. The most well-publicized event was the killing of Marie Colvin and Remi Ochlik  in Homs, Syria last month. Until recently, it seems that online security has always been the province of “geeks.” Organizations whether news outlets, corporations, or activists and […]

Afghans learning to tell their own stories in 2011

Visible Citizens

The recent hype and controversy around Invisible Children, and this post by Sam Gregory of Witness has encouraged me to expand on my initial thoughts seen here on Cartoon Movement. I hope this post can provide a bit of background on how Small World News came to its current incarnation, providing all manner of training and innovative […]

click to download the guide.

Satellite Phone Safety Guide

This week we released our latest guide. The new guide is an attempt to assist those who are forced to rely on satellite phones for communication, particularly in conflict areas and repressive states. Satellite phones are all closed source technology, making them an incredibly risky tool to rely on in life threatening situations. Because satellite […]


Cameras Don’t Create Context, People Do

This week we’ve been looking at the different tools and tech being used by the local affiliate of the Occupy Together or Occupy Wall Street movement, also known as “We are the 99%.” Steve and Josh wrote about their experience at the protest, Josh investigating the opportunity posed by livestreaming, while Steve took some time […]


Documenting the Occupation

With the growing momentum behind the Occupy Wall Street movement, I knew there would be a lot of press at the Occupy Portland march. Josh and I went over and watched as they kicked off their march to speak to the media who associated themselves with the movement, see what tools they were using, and […]

Occupy Portland

Testing Streaming Video At Occupy Portland

Last week some of us from Small World News visited the Occupy Portland protest, a local spin-off of the Occupy Wall Street protests that have captured the national attention. We wanted to observe how citizen media was being utilized to cover the protests, and also to experiment with the tools of the trade. I’ve always […]