By Sylvie Doppelt

Here at WITNESS we share links with each other throughout the week about breaking news, deep thoughts, entertaining cat videos and inspiring stories. Now we want to share some of them with you and are starting something new.

Here’s the first installment of “What We’re Reading.”

News From Around the World

Brazil: Government Repression, and so Citizen Journalists take action

The Brazilian Government often shields the human rights violations, forcible evictions, police brutality, and repression of peaceful demonstrations occurring across Brazilian communities in preparation for the World Cup and Olympic Games. In response, many citizens are taking to the streets and to independent media collectives to document human rights abuses, exposing what mainstream media outlets neglect to show the world. With Brazil now on the world stage, activists and young journalists are capitalizing on this key moment to use video evidence and testimonies to hold the Brazilian authorities accountable to its citizens and showing the world the other side of the World Cup.

Here’s some of our coverage and work around Forced Evictions in Brazil.


What comes to mind when you think about the NYPD? We’re following the recent NYPD Twitter campaign, #myNYPD, in which @nypdnews asked New Yorkers to tweet photos of them with their local cops, and what followed was a – some say predictable – flood of images of police brutality in the city. The campaign could be a signal to the NYPD to reexamine its practices and relationship to its residents, should the department choose to accept that challenge. Take a look at these particularly brutal images and video from the campaign.

Algerian Election and Disturbing Threats to Opposition Activists

Algerian authorities forcibly repressed peaceful opposition demonstrations at last week’s election, during which President Bouteflika was elected to his fourth term, with police brutality, threats, and arrests. Citizen journalists and social media campaigns are becoming heavily involved in the opposition movement, but do so at significant risk, since authorities and news outlets that are faithful to the regime are accusing opposition forces of treasonous activity. Check out video footage of the conflict.

Western Sahara Negotiations

France denies threatening to veto a UN Peacekeeping proposal to increase human rights monitoring in the disputed Western Sahara region, which many human rights advocates are calling for. Human Rights Watch and other advocates, however, fear that France is working to protect Morocco’s claim to the land, halting efforts to track and end violence in the region.

WITNESS has curated a number of videos documenting violence and conflict in the Western Sahara, including this blog post from January.

A Safe, Secure, and Open Internet

Citizen Journalists Paving a New Path for Journalism

Want to be a citizen journalist and share the stories and events that are not covered by mainstream media outlets? Anyone can with these five tools to make citizen reporting safer and more reliable! And check out the Citizen Journalist Guide to Mobile Video to learn strategies to effectively shoot, edit, and share stories with just a mobile phone. Here’s an example. Instead of relying on mainstream media’s often whitewashed version of social movements,, a citizen journalist website out of Bahrain, seeks to document and expose what’s really happening on the ground. CrowdVoice crowdsources and curates its footage from mainstream, independent, and social media outlets worldwide. Users can add to it on a continuous and collaborative basis.

Saudi Arabia to Regulate YouTube production

Activists around the world use YouTube to help expose human rights violations. Yet Saudi Arabia, in continued attempts to limit freedom of press and creativity as well as access to information, is studying how it might regulate local YouTube content. New laws could go as far as requiring Saudi journalists to have a government-issued license to post onto YouTube. Regulating YouTube content, much like it regulates mainstream media, is being defended as a necessary way to mitigate opposition that might denounce the Saudi Regime and Islam, both of which are prohibited by law in the country. Saudi Arabia has a history of imprisoning and beating journalists and citizens that speak poorly of Saudi politics, religion, and even sports teams.

New Relationships, Storyful Partners with Facebook

WITNESS and Storyful are partners on our Human Rights Channel, and we’re happy to see that they’ve now also entered a partnership with Facebook as well. Social media meets news and entertainment video in this alliance. The partnership will bring journalism, curation, verification, expertise, and important breaking stories to one of this generation’s main social media platforms. Few media outlets have the global reach of Facebook, and now those users will also have access to breaking news videos.

Digital Archiving

How do we hold on to our history? This Library of Congress Blog Post reports back from the 2014 Digital Archiving Conference, where activists and archivists are reshaping the definition and field of personal digital archiving now that Facebook and social media seamlessly create a living personal archive for us all. Yvonne Ng, WITNESS’ own archivist, spoke about our role in reaching out to activists, citizen journalists and supporting journalists that bravely work to expose human rights abuses around the globe.

For all you archiving enthusiasts, if you haven’t already, check out these 6 Digital Preservation Models along with WITNESS’Activists’ Guide to Archiving Video!

Better Verification?

Taggly:  Mobile technology innovator Tim Pool created an interesting way to better verify digital news footage. He’s developed a unique watermarking app for citizens and journalists so their logo appears on all images and videos, while also ensuring that producers can choose how much information is revealed to maintain safety and security.The app will also make sure proper credit is given where credit is due… to the journalists shooting footage in the middle of the action.

Screenshots of the new Taggly app via the iTunes store.
Screenshots of the new Taggly app via the iTunes store.

And Finally

Tired? Don’t worry. Read Aristotle’s On Sleep and Sleepiness, which contemplates the role of sleep and dreaming on the body and soul.

And FINALLY… really this time: Special Thanks to everyone who participated in voting for WITNESS’ Human Rights Channel for the Webby Award!

Lead photo: Evanston Newstand by Supafly via Flickr.

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