Groundviews presentation for Manthan Award 2008

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Presentation on Sri Lanka\'s first citizen journalism website, Groudnviews, for the Manthan Awards in October 2008

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Groundviews presentation for Manthan Award 2008

  1. 1. Groundviews Sanjana Hattotuwa
  2. 2. Context   3rd most dangerous country in the world for journalists   Over 14 media workers killed since 2005   7 abducted, 15 arrested   Self-censorship rife   Hate speech, racism and violence against journalists by all parties to the conflict   Culture of impunity
  3. 3. Context   First journalist charged under Prevention of Terrorism Act this year. Initial charge by Attorney General included “seeking to embarrass the government”   Reports of torture and psychological abuse of those arrested by TID   No meaningful investigation into any attack against journalists   Telcos out of fear or for favour are subservient to the government
  4. 4. Groundviews
  5. 5. Groundviews   Started in 2006. First citizen journalism initiative in Sri Lanka.   700+ avg. readers a day   Over 600 submissions, almost all original, including text, photos, videos   Won SNCR Award of Excellence in 2007. The first ever international award won by any news website in Sri Lanka.   No funding since February 2007   Working journalists, civil servants, NGO workers, HR activists, diaspora, civil servants, students, lawyers, diplomatic corps, political parties and more contribute and comment
  6. 6. Outreach   quot;For ongoing analysis of the conflict, the citizen journalism site groundviews.org provides interesting and often tragic reporting” Freedom House   Groundviews got over 144,280 page views and close to a million hits in 2007.   Already 169,817 page views in 2008.   Groundviews is currently referenced on 39 other blogs globally and has a Technorati rank of 131,962 out of the over 70 million blogs.
  7. 7. Outreach   Groundviews is the only citizen journalism website in Sri Lanka to be directly indexed on Google News and ranked Number 1 on Google by keyword.   Articles on the site are regularly republished in other local media, including media websites such as InfoLanka News, Tamil Canadian and Tamilnet   Article regularly republished in mainstream print media – Daily Mirror in particular
  8. 8. Guidelines on Groundviews   Please treat others with respect. Flaming and trolling will not be accepted on Groundviews. Attack the issue, not the person. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved. Comments that seek to inflame tensions on the ground, or are of a defamatory nature, will not be approved, or will be taken off the website as soon as possible.   Groundviews is a place for original and creative writing, not repetition or regurgitation.   No NGO statements   Creative Commons 3 Sharealike with attribution license
  9. 9. Challenges   Dealing with hate speech psychologically draining   Increasingly dangerous – “providing solace and relief to terrorists” / Deteriorating security context   Time consuming and generally thankless   Transference of skills problematic   English knowledge ESSENTIAL even if blogging in the vernacular (interfaces, tags, content management)   Personal risk profile   Scaling up
  10. 10. Importance   Citizens are empowered to bear witness, to speak out   Issues highlighted that mainstream media cannot, or will not   Information as a public good   Contestation of policies including war, debunking black and white notions of patriot vs. terrorist   Content
  11. 11. The future   Ashoka Fellowship will help take the initiative(s) to the global stage in the next 3 years   Scaling up and expanding within the country   A working definition of citizen journalism as an idea central and integral to peacebuilding and conflict resolution   Citizen journalism as bearing witness to violence promoted as a vehicle of strengthening democracy / adapting the model of Groundviews
  12. 12. Old media waking up
  13. 13. Hope   “I don’t agree with what you say, but I see why Groundviews is there. Keep it up!”
  14. 14. Thank you!

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