“I am a journalist from the conflict-ridden North-east region of India,” says Stella, a 2012 WorldPulse correspondent. “I faced rejection because I wrote about poverty, malnutrition, witchcraft, domestic violence…. Then, in November I became selected as a Voices of the Future correspondent by World Pulse. And it did magic. It transformed my life. From isolation, I was propelled to a world of global connections where my stories and my problems were read and shared by women in 185 countries!”

World media has failed to engage urgent and pressing issues with authentic—and female—voices. 24% of people  talked about in the news are women and only 6% of stories highlight issues of gender equality or inequality. World Pulse’s Voices of Our Future: Citizen Journalism and Digital Empowerment Training Program focuses on women in conflict zones and remote regions of the world, training them in journalism and encouraging them to make their own media. Our 2013 applications launch on April 2nd, and we’re seeking candidates for a whole new class of women journalists and change-makers.

A march against breast ironing, after WorldPulse correspondant Leina reported on the issue.
A march against breast ironing, after WorldPulse correspondant Leina reported on the issue.

The fourth module in our citizen journalist training is Digital Storytelling. It equips our 30 selected correspondents with basic skills, knowledge, and tools in photo and video journalism. For it, we partner with Global Press Institute, a leader in utilizing journalism as a development tool to educate, employ, and empower women in the developing world. GPI hires female journalists from around the world to increase awareness of social issues and ignite social change.

In the age of digital journalism, it is vital that our journalists have not only the skills to write, but also to capture stories via video. Digital stories can create a more personal and emotional connection with an audience, which drives their awe-inspiring potential to be shared virally and elevate these important issues. Digital storytelling not only reaches a larger audience, but it can also bypass language and cultural differences. Furthermore, the explosion of more affordable camera-equipped mobile phones and increasing access to the Internet is ensuring that the voices of women everywhere are being presented to a larger audience.

In the Digital Storytelling module, we give special instructions on safety and security, recognizing that capturing video presents unique issues to consider. We reference the WITNESS’ guidelines in this arena. Similar to a written piece, correspondents learn to define their message, goals, and target audience. Each correspondent is paired with a ‘Vision Mentor’ who builds a transformational partnership, ensuring that the correspondent vocalizes and acts on her vision. Each correspondent also has the support of an Editorial Mentor, who supports and guides her as she perfects her submissions. This effective, supportive triad is unique to World Pulse. [Click here to find out more about becoming and Editorial Mentor].

Aliya Bashir participated in the program for the first year that we included digital storytelling, and she now works as a multimedia reporter for the Global Press Institute.

Aliya’s work highlights some of the major points that our training emphases. Her video is concise and keeps a narrow focus on businesswomen in Kashmir. She uses strong visuals and personal narratives to tell the story. Not only does Aliya build strong characters in her piece, but she intentionally choses her characters’ setting to further contextualize the story.

Leina, a 2011 correspondent, broke the silence on breast ironing in her native Cameroon through video storytelling.

As a result of her groundbreaking reporting, CNN came out with this story on the issue, which became CNN’s top story on July 28th, 2011. Leina’s decision to push this tough issue effecting her community, lead to the collection of over 27,000 signatures demanding that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon listen to their collective voices.

Leina’s video also illustrates many of the tenets outlined in our Digital Story telling training. Her video affects her audience on an emotional level, compelling them to act. Leina’s story not only brings awareness but is solution-focused. She exposes the need for not only sex education, but also for accountability of sexual predators.

Leina and Aliya’s influence is creating real change and we are watching her community rise up and take action. Grassroots women leaders are an untapped source of innovation and solutions that will provide the key to solving global problems. WorldPulse’s Voices of Our Future: Citizen Journalism and Digital Empowerment Training Program seeks to address this potential by giving women the knowledge and power to tell their own stories.

 

Zoe Piliafas Manager VOFZoe Piliafas is the manager of World Pulse as the Voices of Our Future. She has a background in domestic education for disenfranchised communities. Her passions are centered in community centered solutions and identifying systematic structures that create institutional oppression. 

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