By Fabienne Tarrant

Every week we publish a list of our favorite articles on human rights, video and advocacy shared by WITNESS staff in the office and on social media. This week we feature commentary on another side of the war in Syria, President Obama’s call for additional funds to curtail the flow of children from Latin America attempting to enter the US, and articles about video verification, safety for journalists and predicting the impact of advocacy media on social change. Here’s what we’ve been reading this week at WITNESS.

Participant Index Seeks to Determine Why One Film Spurs Activism, While Others Falter – NYTimes

In aiming to discover what influences an audience to take action, Participant Media, a privately held entertainment company created in 2004 by eBay co-founder Jeffrey S. Skoll, is developing a measuring tool called the Participant Index.  The Index collects information on raw audience numbers for issue-driven media (including narrative films, documentaries, television programs and online short videos), and indicators such as social media activity and more traditional reach measures. Through this, Participant hopes to collect extensive data on what topics and storytelling methods will motivate viewers to action and in turn, what projects they should potentially support and fund to maximize their impact.


Image courtesy of Freedom House via Flickr.
Image courtesy of Freedom House via Flickr.

Losing the Lonely War – Foreign Policy

“Suicide is becoming a crisis among people affected by Syria’s protracted civil war — and no one is talking about it.”

In “Losing The Lonely War,” Lauren Wolfe shows us another side of the conflict in Syria through a the story of Alma Abdulrahman, a 27 year-old female commander from the Free Syrian Army, who was the victim of repeated torture and rape while imprisoned by Bashar Al-Assad’s forces. From her hospital bed in Amman, Jordan, Abdulrahman began speaking to Wolfe about her separation from her children, her partial paralysis (caused by a blow to the neck) and her loneliness. As time passed, Wolfe reports, Alma began to give up hope, refused care and sustenance, and eventually passed away last month. In this poignant and important article, Wolfe reflects on mental health, suicide and the pervasive feeling of hopelessness shared amongst those affected by the Syrian war.

Safety Tips for on-the-scene Journalists – Muck Rack

Kayla Matthews of Muck Rack, presents a concise list tips for individuals and journalists reporting from conflict zones and other dangerous places. Touching upon many tips also featured in WITNESS tip sheets, Matthews provides recommendations on what to carry, packing a first-aid kit, being aware of your surroundings, bringing important information, what to wear, how to take care of yourself and emphasis on not working alone. A vital read for anyone capturing a story!


Image courtesy of Wonderland via Flickr
Image courtesy of Wonderland via Flickr

Debunking 8 Myths About Why Central American Children Are Migrating – In These Times

“More enforcement will not deal with the causes of the migration from Central America. In fact, the deportation of more people back to their countries of origin will increase joblessness and economic desperation—the main factors causing people to leave. Violence, which feeds on that desperation, will increase as well.”

This week, David Bacon of In These Times examines President Obama’s proposal to allocate $3.7 billion dollars to address the recent influx of unaccompanied minors from Latin America attempting to enter the United States. Bacon argues that this increase must be viewed as the result of past U.S. foreign policy and current immigration policies and lays out how the proposed policy will violate basic rights, ethics, and fail to stop the migration of children and adults. The article breaks down the reasons families take desperate measure and leave home to attempt to cross the border and what measure the US should to take in order to come to formulate comprehensive and humane immigration policy.

Lessons for Journalists in How Storyful Verifies the Biggest Breaking News – American Journalism Review

And finally, The American Journalism Review published a step-by-step guide on how our friends at Storyful (a partner on The Human Rights Channel) verify social media content. Through interviews with Storyful staff and verification case studies, the piece shows visual examples with step-by-step explanations of Storyful’s verification procedure. Examples include verification stories from the Boston Marathon bombing, a mystery involving low-flying helicopters, and using video to geolocate videos of a tank explosion in Syria.

Fabienne Tarrant is a summer intern at WITNESS.
Image: Via DailyKos/Creative Commons.

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