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In our findings the business models of the cases fall into two main categories: those which have storytelling-orientated business models and those which rely on a more service-orientated model.

The sites whose business model is based around storytelling are still prevalent in our findings. These sites focus on making money from producing original content, news and stories, for audiences. The difference to the mass media model is that in the online world the target audience is smaller. Online journalism relies heavily on niche audiences built around targeted themes such as hobbies, neighborhoods or psychographic tendencies. In this niche journalism there is a tight triangulation between journalistic content and advertised products.

The other group, service-oriented business models, seems to be growing. This group consists of sites that don’t try to monetize the journalistic content as such. For example citizen journalism sites are more like platforms that curate and moderate citizen-oriented content, or news aggregators compile stories form other outlets. Some startups have specialized in selling technology, information, training or diversifying to redefine what it means to do news.

New research: The SuBMoJour study maps sustainable journalistic startups in nine countries. It includes an online database detailing the business models of these entrepreneurial sites.

Late last year I curated a week of posts for In Media Res, a superb project that brings anthropologists together to talk about online video.  Writing fascinatingly alongside me were Sarah Van Deusen Phillips, Melissa Gira-Grant and Leshu Torchin.  Here’s my post, originally published here:

Shaky, grainy, traumatic footage filmed on mobile phones wielded by brave citizens – from Burma to Tibet to Iran – has fast become both part of and fuel for contemporary narratives of uprising, struggle and repression – and it increasingly represents one of the key acts of resistance that individual citizens in repressive societies can make.  While this now makes it seem almost commonplace in the rituals of human rights media, it wasn’t always thus.

I’ve been tracking, analysing and curating human rights video online for the human rights organisation WITNESS since the middle of 2006, initially via a blog aiming to unearth examples of activists using new technologies to document, expose and bring an end to human rights violations.  A large number of stories were about mobile phone video – from police cells in Egypt to the execution of Saddam Hussein – and strikingly the most compelling, unvarnished and actionable footage often came from the cameras of the human rights abusers themselves.

Most of these cases showed networked technologies could reinforce repression – specifically taking mobile footage of humiliation, beatings, abuse, torture, happening in secret places, to show it directly to those you want to intimidate, and to circulate it more widely via Bluetooth “pour encourager les autres”.  But in a certain number of instances case the videos found their way into the hands of outraged activists who spread and publicised the abuses online, to often global attention, with the long-term effect of focusing attention, activism, and advocacy to the governments tolerating or sponsoring these abuses, or at the very least, to undermine officially sanctioned or imposed narratives of law, order, justice.

Some videos, however, don’t make the same dent.  Read More

Len Kendall and Daniel Honigman are running a daily project called the3six5 – “365 days told by 365 different people.” They kindly invited me to participate, and I chose Sunday, January 10th.

This means that I am the Gujarati filling in a Indian sandwich. What other patterns shall we discern by year’s end? Will Len and Daniel be revealed as God-like artist-watchmakers with an impossibly vast yet detailed vision like Aaron Koblin?

[Originally published here on the WITNESS Hub Blog.]

The Al Jazeera English show The Listening Post has just rolled a brilliant animation over its closing credits.  Put together by 4 students at the Vancouver Film School, it’s called “Iran: A Nation of Bloggers”, and it’s got pace, energy and style (not unlike Avaaz’s “Clash of Civilisations” piece from last year), as well as weaving in a range of topics quite neatly, in 100 seconds (not including the credits…):

Any other great examples of human rights-focused animations out there? Post them in the comments!

 

[Originally published here as part of WITNESS's collaboration with Global Voices Online]

In the run-up to the annual global campaign for 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, Egypt’s First Lady, Suzanne Mubarak, addressing a meeting of the Arab Women’s Organisation, issued a heartfelt plea:

What shall we do to face challenges of discrimination, extremism and religious fanaticism?

It’s a vexing question – and one to which women back home in Egypt would have a very specific answer: stop ignoring violence against women even when it’s become an international scandal thanks to citizen video and the internet.

In her speech, Mrs Mubarak failed to make even a passing reference to what had happened to tens of women in her home city of Cairo just a couple of weeks before. A wave of attacks on women in downtown Cairo erupted on the Muslim feast day of Eid Al Fitr, October 24th 2006, when large groups of men attacked several women in the street, as Manal and Alaa’s bit bucket relates. But this wasn’t a one-off – in January 2006, on Eid al Adha, film-maker Sherif Sadek was back in Cairo, when he heard a commotion on the street outside his downtown apartment. Sherif grabbed his camera and leaned out the window to film the video presented below.

Synopsis

Initially it’s a little difficult to tell what is going on in the video – there are crowds in the middle of the street, which looks unusual – but after about 25 seconds, you will see two or three men leading four or five girls down the street past the building from which Sherif is filming. The crowd behind them is extremely large, a couple of hundred strong, and soon surrounds the girls (around 1’20). They then pass down a side-street, partially out of view, which gives Sherif time to spot a man in uniform – a police officer? – looking down the street at the commotion, who then gets back in his vehicle (1’50). Sections of the crowd then come running back round the corner, although it’s not clear whether they have the girls with them or not.

[YouTube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2SGamUeMec]

The October attacks took a similar form. GV’s Amira al Hussaini rounds up the best blog coverage of the October attacks, including Forsoothsayer’s translation of blogger Wael Abbas‘s eye-witness account, and Mechanical Crowds’ attempt to pull together the key facts.

Most strikingly, one of the victims of the Eid al Fitr attacks seems to have found a voice through the medium of blogging. Wounded Girl From Cairo appears to be by one of the women attacked on Eid al Fitr, and her description of her ordeal is required reading.

Read More

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