“We want to target a much larger audience,” says Julia Gómez, researcher and curator, responsible for Latin America and the Caribbean. “We see our new platform Crowdvoice.by as having great potential for grassroots organisations that engage in important on-the-ground work, but lack the resources to communicate their messages to a wider audience.”
Seeking to alleviate the problems of censorship, Crowdvoice.org (INDEX: Award 2015 Finalist and former Summer School candidate) is an open-source service that shares both the hard facts and the human faces of important issues. As a tool for democracy, the site allows anyone, anywhere, to speak up anonymously about critical events or abuses. Extending beyond the whistle-blowing service, the site also curates this content into a digestible and highly engaging format.
What started out as an experimental, self-funded initiative in 2010 has since proven to be an essential tool for the progression of human rights. Many large publishers have recognised the site’s value, including The Guardian, Al Jazeera and the UN News Centre, who have all showcased evidence gathered by the platform.
Now with more robust and user-friendly version Crowdvoice.by, the team have engaged dozens of awareness groups and organisations, and are covering more topics including education, health, politics, privacy and the environment.
Like the original platform, the site allows activists and organisations to source and distribute media related to their causes, while also acting as a content goldmine for news distributors.
“By catering to these two spheres, we hope to create a mutually-beneficial situation for both fields, providing exposure for organisations working on underreported issues, and furnishing journalists with a wealth of firsthand media and unique perspectives,” Julia said.
There many advantages to having news alternatives that are citizen-driven and crowd-verified, she added. Julia believes that crowd-sourced news provides a much more balanced picture than content produced by large news organisations, who are often under pressure to report in accordance with their funding sources or political allegiance.
“We believe that crowdsourced news and firsthand reports lend layers of context and, hopefully, truth that you might not otherwise get,” she said.
“Crowdvoice has made a notable difference in places where government tightly controls news, or where journalists engage in self-censorship.”
According to Julia, the team will continue to focus heavily on India and the Latin America region, where censorship still remains an issue. But added that the platforms are also helping to expose concealed injustices in ‘developed’ nations.
“There is more and more potential for this type of tool in the States where we’re seeing a clear impact due to the citizen videos documenting police brutality,” Julia explained. “[The need for Crowdvoice has also become evident] during the current election cycle, where we’ve been more exposed to the questionable nature of mainstream media.”
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Protest image: Brainbitch