We believe our unique body of expertise with media development in conflict areas makes us uniquely positioned to empower citizens in conflict/post-conflict states to tell their own stories to the world and to become active citizens leveraging technology to engage the international community. In the past year, in addition to our own projects, Small World News has conducted training in Iraq, Afghanistan, India, Rwanda, Bahrain, Haiti, Libya, and Uganda. Training subjects included: new media tools for civil society, SMS and mobile technology, training for journalists in new media and multimedia, training and advising in online security, training and deployment of Ushahidi.
Our most recent project, Alive in Libya, showcased the potential of citizen media when combined with affordable digital technologies and professional training. In just one week SWN trained 12 local citizens as video journalists. They have since produced more than 130 videos in 2 months. The videos have provided a look at the front lines of the war in the east, as well as interviews with opposition leaders and stories about daily life in Revolutionary Libya.
As an organization our primary focus is to guide citizens through the entire process from learning to produce professional media to distributing via social media and leveraging relevant technologies to broaden the impact.
The potential for any citizen to create impactful media has exploded in recent years. Mobile phones, photo and video cameras, computers and high speed internet have all become vastly more accessible. Although technology is becoming far more accessible, there is one necessary element to create impactful media that is still missing: professional training.
Over two weeks Small World News will provide training focused on techniques related to the production and distribution of citizen media. Lessons focus on visual storytelling, producing video and photo journalism with available tools, leveraging existing social media tools as news and advocacy platforms and creating a presence online to engage your audience.
Small World News will provide copies of its own training materials to each graduate of the workshop, to further empower these individuals to teach their new skills to others. The exact structure of the training is dependent on the needs and experience of the trainees. It will focus on practical work and hands-on projects, combined with student presentations and critique.
In recent years professional-quality media production and post production tools have become accessible not only to independent filmmakers outside Hollywood studios, but around the globe. There is no shortage of examples of enterprising individuals who worked against the odds to create masterful works.
Yet there are not enough programs focused on teaching youth to produce professional quality material with the goal of ensuring that film as an art form is accessible to as many individuals as possible, and that it is seen not just as a means to an end, but an end in itself.
Small World News has designed a three week workshop for young filmmakers hoping to improve their skills and make a name for themselves. Over three weeks SWN trainers teach participants the basics of production and post-production. Each day we will present one example work to highlight that day’s focus. In some cases these may be commercial films, but often they should be clips shot locally or by other citizen media producers.
Over the first week participants will produce one short piece per day as a group, and a number of individual pieces as ï¿½homework.ï¿½ During these days the training will cover production essentials: composition, lighting basics, sound, and visual storytelling. The second week will be structured much as the first, but focused on learning editing techniques. The final week will focus on producing two complete pieces from concept to editing.
Within three weeks participants will have produced at least three short films in their entirety. They will learn all the skills necessary to continue producing their own videos in the future, whether as narrative or documentary films, fiction or nonfiction television programming, and online content.
In the ever-changing world of social media and evolving digital tools its difficult even for journalists in the developed world to keep up, despite daily interaction with the tools. Journalists in newly democratic nations, post-conflict states, and other areas with a nascent press rarely take full advantage of these tools.
Small World News has trained journalists in a dozen countries across the entire spectrum of social/digital media technology. SWN is prepared to offer training and consulting for journalists and news agencies to learn basic new media skills or launch new services possible with this new, affordable technology. The best training is informed by a local need, Small World News endeavors to solve the actual needs expressed by locals. Combining a broad variety of skillsets and experience in a diverse array of environments, SWN works with locals to create unique case-by-case training.
Examples of potential projects include, but are not limited to: setting up an SMS tipline, sending headlines or short news updates to subscribers via SMS, using mapping applications such as Ushahidi or Umapper to expand the impact of location-oriented content-such as stories about service delivery, crime, commodity pricing, offline distribution of video/audio content, and building an online audience via social networking tools.
By combining online mapping tools and display with an SMS/MMS system for submissions, the quality of maps tracking infrastructure issues or violence is dramatically increased. Furthermore, more and more tools are being developed that enable organizations to push information to citizens, via SMS. Although many citizens will lack the access to the web necessary to peruse maps directly, by pushing content out to mobile, we can enable those without access to benefit from collected reports regarding violence, infrastructure, or other issues.
The more the local community see journalists as advocates and agents for the local good, the more likely they will support and protect journalists. This is also where the importance of civic participation takes a new role. By providing an outlet for citizens to submit their own reports, in areas or topics they feel are underreported, they begin to buy into the success of the network. There is a give and take between promoting the tools and fostering local participation.
This program includes technical training and support for staff and partners, covering: Ushahidi platform; mobile systems; report intake; and related technologiess. Additionally we provide strategy training and advising on the best uses of mobile systems in general and in a location-specific context, as well as Management, trouble-shooting, and support for data processing for Ushahidi instance. All trainings will be documented and content will be included in training documentation written by SWN specifically for this program.
Likely topics of training include, but are not limited to: the basic functions and premise of the Ushahidi platform (including navigating the main interface); theories and background of the Ushahidi platform (including a basic overview of the back-end basics, including what API, REST, and XML mean and what effect they have on the front end); and how content management systems work and how they interface with the Ushahidi platform (including SMS polling versus form submission and moderating incoming data)