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Are Blogs an Endangered Species?

This text is part of the 46th #LunesDeBlogsGV (#MondayBlogsOnGlobalVoices) on March 23, 2015.

On #LunesDeBlogsGV (#MondayOfBlogsOnGlobalVoices), we work to preserve blogs as an “endangered species”, confronting the challenges that threaten their existence in today's digital jungle. In a similar effort, the blogger Iván Lasso compiles stories about the future of blogging and the problems bloggers face today, when their content runs the risk of being lost in the abundance of different types and quality levels of information on the Internet. The situation bloggers increasingly find online, Lasso argues, is approaching a “David and Goliath” situation.

Lasso says of the biggest issues for bloggers today:

A raíz de la popularización de la web, de unos años para acá hay mucha más audiencia potencial disponible. Pero sospecho que gran parte de esa audiencia nunca podría ser tuya (tuya, mía… de blogs pequeños, vamos). Es audiencia que acude a la red en busca de simple entretenimiento y que si quiere información más “dura”, acude a los medios tradicionales que ahora ya están en la web.

In recent years, following the popularity of the Web, there is a much larger audience available. But I suspect that much of this audience will never be yours. Its's an audience that comes to the Net looking for simple entertainment and when they want more “hard” information, they go to the traditional mainstream media which is also on the Web.

Lasso also offers some solutions for the challenges bloggers face:

Hoy día, para que un blog independiente alcance un cierto grado de éxito (reconocimiento, reputación y visitas) debe convertirse en un rayo láser que apunte a aquello en lo que quiere destacar:
¿Quieres dar noticias? Tienes que darlas lo antes posible, más rápido que nadie.
¿Quieres hacer análisis u opinión? Tienes que profundizar más que nadie.
¿Quieres ser didáctico? Tienes que explicar mejor que nadie. Y también con más detalle que nadie.

Nowadays, for an independent blog to have a certain degree of success (recognition, reputation, and views), you must become a laser beam focused on what readers want:

  • You want to report news? You must give it them as soon as possible, faster than anyone.
  • You want to offer analysis and points of view? You must go deeper than anyone.
  • You want to be instructional? You have to explain things better than anyone. And be more specific than anyone.

Continue reading Ivan Lasso's post here, and follow him on Twitter.

 This text is part of the 46th #LunesDeBlogsGV (#MondayOfBlogsOnGlobalVoices) on March 23, 2015.

Mexican Women Are Being Called on to Help Transform Their Portrayal in Mexican Media

WACC, SocialTIC, WITNESS, La Sandía Digital, and Subversiones have called on women interested in telling the stories of strong women in their communities with the purpose of changing the way women are represented in the media.

As one of the representatives of the project told Global Voices, in Mexican media there is not only a lack of production and distribution of content produced by women, but lack of nuanced content, which only serves to replicate dominant stereotypes that do not reflect or promote diversity.

Voces de Mujeres, fotografía extraída del Perfil de Facebook de SocialTIC, utilizada con autorización

Women's Voices. Photo take from SocialTIC's Facebook page. Used with permission.

What does the project consist of? 

The project consists of an audiovisual laboratory caravan where women will learn about photography, video, and text creation. The laboratory caravan will last six months, holding four three-day sessions in different Mexican communities during May, June, July, and August.

What are the participation requirements? 

Women must be 18 and over, residing in central Mexico, involved in community projects, capable of dedicating 8 hours a week from May to September, available for travel during the scheduled dates, commited to sharing with the commuity what has been learned, and have access to a portable computer. Twenty applicants will be chosen.

The registration period for this project expired on March 27, 2015. Organizers are selecting the eligible entries from the ones received from all over Mexico and will soon publish the results. If any questions or inquiries please direct it to voces.mujeres@gmail.com.

Mapping Lebanese Journalists on Twitter

Mustapha Hamoui, aka @Beirutspring is mapping the presence of Lebanese journalists on Twitter. For that he is compiling a list with their Twitter handles. The list includes non-Lebanese journalists who also report on the country. You can access the Google doc or update it here.  

Iran's Minister of ICT Suggests Instagram Will Not Be (Completely) Blocked Until an Alternative Is Found

Page 15 of Shargh newspaper contained the headline: "The promises of the Minister of ICT to clear the problems of mobile social media.

Page 15 of Shargh newspaper contained the headline: “The promises of the Minister of ICT to clear the problems of mobile social media. Those responsible at the ministry are preparing a campaign.” Screenshot by author.

Iran's leading reformist newspaper, Shargh, ran an article this past Sunday entitled: “The promises of the Minister of ICT to clear the problems of mobile social media.” The focus of Iran's Minister of Information and Communication Technology Mahmoud Vaezi was the filtering status of popular mobile applications, with a particular focus on Instagram.

He told Shargh the following: 

اصلا نگران نباشید. تصمیم مشخص ما آن است که فعلا برنامای برای محدودیت فعالیت شبکهای اجتماعی موبایلی نداریم و قطعا زمانی این موضوع را اعلام خواهیم کرد که جایگزیهای مناسبی برای این شبکها در داخل کشور ایجاد شده باشد.

You should not be worried. Our policy is that we will not restrict the activities of any mobile social media, and when we do announce it, it will be when we find an alternative for this network inside the country.

The popularity of mobile applications has led to some directives from institutions outside of the current administration's hands, such as the Judiciary for filtering. Shargh noted:

بعد از چندیبار تذکر از سوی نهادهای بالادستی به وزارت ارتباطات مبنی بر ارائه برنامای جهت نظارت هرچه بیشتر بر محتوای این شبک ها، «فیلترینگ هوشمند» به عنوان اولویت برنامای دولت مطرح شد زیرا واعظی وزیر ارتباطات معتقد است تمام آنچه از طریق این شبکها منتشر مشود، شامل محتوای نامناسب نیست، بلکه نزدیک به 90درصد مطالبی که روی این شب ها قرار مگیرد، جزء محتوای پاک است.

After a few warnings given to government by higher authorities, the ministry decided to use smart filtering, which will be the priority in the government’s program to monitor social networks, because [Minister for ICT] Vaezi believes all the materials published by these networks are not bad. Close to 90% of the materials publicized on these networks are clean materials.

Current smart filtering of Instagram pages means Iran-based mobile users are blocked from viewing selected pages.

Following the publication of this post, one Internet researcher, Amir Rashidi noted the Minister's statement regarding no viable ‘alternatives’ is a political form of appeasement between hardline elements (such as in the judiciary) and those who support more Internet freedom (such as the Rouhani administration). As noted in the Tweet below by researcher Nariman Gharib, Lenzor exists as a local Iranian alternative to Instagram.

@maasalan there is an alternative right now in Iran. Lenzor

— Nariman Gharib (@ListenToUs) April 12, 2015

@maasalan @ListenToUs i think “alternative” is just an excuse for him to keep hardliner away from blocking those apps

— Amir Rashidi (@Ammir) April 12, 2015

 

The Media's Role in Mexico's ‘Warped’ Democracy

Fotografía extraída del blog de Fernando Vazques Rigada, utilizada con autorización

Photo from Fernando Vazquez Rigada's blog, used with permission

Blogger Fernando Vázquez Rigada reflects on the role of the media in Mexico, a country where he says democracy is “warped” because it only works on a formal level, and society isn't adequately represented by the political institutions.

He adds that Mexican media bear a huge responsibility in this issue. There are a variety of media in Mexico, however, quantity does not always goes hand in hand with quality, especially considering that the political power is closely linked to the media system:

El estado mexicano gasta una cantidad descomunal de recursos anualmente en pago a medios de comunicación. Sabemos que el poder ejecutivo federal invierte alrededor de 6 mil millones de pesos al año. Esa cifra, sin embargo, excluye a los otros poderes, a los 31 estados, al DF y a los 2,457 municipios y a las 16 delegaciones del DF. Tampoco incluye al gasto de los partidos políticos. La cifra debe multiplicarse al menos por diez.

Así, los medios en México deben recibir de dinero público algo así como 70 mil millones de pesos anuales. 191 millones de pesos cada día. Casi 8 millones de pesos cada hora.

Eso explica la enorme laguna informativa que ahoga a México.

The Mexican state spends an enormous amount of money in payments to media outlets. We know that the federal executive branch invests about six billion Mexican pesos a year. That figure, however, excludes other powers, the 31 Mexican states, Mexico DF, 2,457 municipalities and 16 delegations in Mexico City. Nor does it include the expenditure of political parties. So, that figure should be multiplied at least, tenfold.

Thus, the media in Mexico should receive annually from public money around 70 billion Mexican pesos. 191 million pesos every day. Nearly 8 million pesos per hour.

That explains the huge information gap in Mexico.

Vázquez Rigada concludes that its links with political power and its economic dependence prevent the media from reporting freely and fulfilling its role of monitoring those in power, pointing out flaws and opening political debate.

You can follow Fernando Vázquez Rigada on Twitter.

This post was part of the 44th #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on February 23, 2015.

Bulgaria's First Crowdfunding Journalism Project

Bulgaria, a member of the European Union, has a big problem with freedom of the media. The Balkan country is ranked 106 out of 180 countries in the 2015 World Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders.

Against this unpleasant background, a new media project was established with the ambitious task of opposing the media empires of local oligarchs and providing an alternative way to access information to the public.

KlinKlin.bg, founded by journalists, designers and bloggers, aims to establish an independent crowdfunding journalist project similar in spirit to those established by colleagues in the Netherlands (decorespondent.nl), Germany (krautreporter.de) and Canada (ricochet.media). But KlinKlin faces a major challenge: 86.5% of the population has no confidence in the local media.

KlinKlin is in the early stage of collecting support and funding. For now, the site is in Bulgarian, but the team is considering an English version too. In less than a week, the Facebook page of KlinKlin has just under 2,700 fans. Below is the group's promo video complete with English subtitles.

Mexican Group Receives International Journalism Recognition Julio Anguita Parrado

Periodistas de a Pie (@periodistasdeapie), an active journalist organization that aims to raise the quality of journalism in Mexico, received the International Journalism Award Julio Anguita Parrado in Spain.

Through training and exchanging investigation techniques, experiences, reporting strategies, narrative styles and ways of approaching a story with colleagues, the group aims to challenge censorship.

The dean of the University of Córdoba and mayor hand out the 8th Julio Anguita Parrado Award.

Elia Baltazar, a member of Periodistas de a Pie, said in an interview that journalism in her country has recognition only from some sectors. We can see evidence of that in the impunity that exists when it comes to journalists being killed.

“Los que hemos elegido esta profesión no pretendemos cambiar nada sino informar para que sean los ciudadanos quienes tomen las decisiones para cambiar las cosas. Queremos una sociedad abierta, donde los periodistas podamos cumplir nuestra labor sin arriesgarnos porque una sociedad mejor informada va a ser una sociedad que tome mejores decisiones”, apunta.

Those of us who've chosen this profession don't pretend to change anything, just to inform so the citizens can be the ones who make the decisions to change things. We want an open society, where journalists might be able to fulfill out work without risks, because a better informed society will be a society that makes better decisions.

The jury of the 8th Julio Anguita Parrado Award, named after the Spanish journaist that passed away ten years ago while covering the war in Irak, valued the “informative work, silent, without showing off, carried out by communicators in absolute heroic circumstances, in a place where their ives and integrity are under constant threat”.

Finally, a Mobile App for Geolocated News in Latin America

FACTICO is the first mobile media designed in Latin America to geolocate information. But, what is app all about?

FACTICO es la aplicación de noticias e información más innovadora y atractiva de América Latina. Nuestras notas son compactas y fáciles de leer, y todos nuestros contenidos están georreferenciados. La información más importante del día y los mejores eventos están en FACTICO.

FACTICO is the most innovative and attractive app of news and information in Latin America. Our news are compact and easy to read, and all our contents are georeferenced. The most important news of the day and the best events are at FACTICO.

Bellow there is an example of how FACTICO Mexico works:

Everything happens in Mexico City. We provide the map, you provide the passion. 

In their manifest,o the creators of FACTICP state who they are and what they expect:

Somos lxs que creímos la promesa de la pluralidad en los medios y terminamos viendo la censura explícita y velada. Pero aprendimos a hackear el problema […]

Somos lxs que hemos salido a las calles a observar, a documentar lo que pasa en esta región del mundo poco entendida. Y por eso sabemos que no estamos solos.

Somos lxs que estamos cansados de las “historias oficiales”, de las declaraciones sin sustancia y de los replicadores del discurso que no cuestionan, que no preguntan.

Somos lxs que no aceptamos que se nos diga “ustedes no existen; sus ideas no importan; bajen la voz.”

Estamos aquí. Existimos.

Y estamos diciendo algo.

 Porque nunca como hoy ha existido más gente conectada, con ansias de conocer, saber y cambiar la manera de hacer las cosas.

Porque trabajamos e innovamos en red. Colaboramos. Mapeamos. Documentamos. Observamos. Damos contexto. Y no dejamos de experimentar.

We are the ones who believed in the promise ofmedia plurality and ended up seeing explicit and veiled censorship. But we learned to hack the problem […]

We are the ones who went out into the streets to observe, to document what happens in this poorly understood part of the world. And it is for that reason that we know we are not alone.

We are the ones who are tired of “official stories”, of insubstantial statements and of echo chambers that don't question speech. 

We are the ones who do not accept being told “you do not exist, your ideas do not matter, lower your voices.”

We are here. We exist. And we are saying something. Because there have never been so many people connected as today, wanting to know, to find out and to change the way of doing things.

Because we work and innovate online. Collaborate. Map. Document. Observe. Provide context. And we do not stop to experiment.

Keep up with news about the app via the hashtag #FacticoTeAcerca (FACTICO brings you closer), and download the app here, available for Android and iOS.

Open Letter to 60 Minutes Regarding Its Reporting on Africa

Scholars, writers, journalists and researchers write an open letter to 60 Minutes producer about the misrepresentation of Africa by the Tv program:

Dear Jeff Fager, Executive Producer of CBS 60 Minutes,

We, the undersigned, are writing to express our grave concern about the frequent and recurring misrepresentation of the African continent by 60 Minutes.

In a series of recent segments from the continent, 60 Minutes has managed, quite extraordinarily, to render people of black African ancestry voiceless and all but invisible.

Two of these segments were remarkably similar in their basic subject matter, featuring white people who have made it their mission to rescue African wildlife. In one case these were lions, and in another, apes. People of black African descent make no substantial appearance in either of these reports, and no sense whatsoever is given of the countries visited, South Africa and Gabon.

The third notable recent segment was a visit by your correspondent Lara Logan to Liberia to cover the Ebola epidemic in that country. In that broadcast, Africans were reduced to the role of silent victims. They constituted what might be called a scenery of misery: people whose thoughts, experiences and actions were treated as if totally without interest. Liberians were shown within easy speaking range of Logan, including some Liberians whom she spoke about, and yet not a single Liberian was quoted in any capacity.

Eerie Similarities Between Germanwings Tragedy and Argentinian-Spanish Film ‘Wild Tales’

More than once, screenwriters have found inspiration in reality for their fiction. This time, it seems reality was inspired by fiction. The news that the co-pilot of German airline Germanwings‘ Flight 9525 is suspected of intentionally crashing the plane, taking the lives of 149 people with him, seems to be one of these cases.

The tragedy shares some similarities with Argentinean-Spanish film “Wild Tales“, directed by Damián Szifrón. The movie compiles six episodes connected by the topic of the relief of anger and the violence contained by different characters. The first of these stories is about a mentally disturbed pilot named Pasternak, who decides to commit suicide by crashing an airplane — which is filled with everyone who has harmed him since childhood — into his parents’ home:

On Twitter, several users from different countries could not help but notice the similarities between the air disaster and the movie:

For those who have watched the movie @rsalvajes_ok it is inevitable that they remember the first scene. Reality always exceeds fiction

The tragedy is more and more reminiscent one of the episodes in the movie Wild Tales #unconceivable #Germanwings

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