When I began grad school for journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I had every intention of preparing myself for a career in international reporting. For me, effectively communicating across cultural tensions is a fulfilling lifelong pursuit. Journalism is a means of addressing apathy towards issues of human rights abuses, poverty and natural disasters that largely derive from physical distance.
Foreign correspondents recognize this disconnect and seek out the nitty-gritty details and personal narrative in desperate situations that will drive these issues home with their viewers. I would argue that the best liaisons are able to balance these disheartening exposes with empowering stories of hope and inspiration, which often aren’t celebrated enough.
While I’d still choose coffee with Nicholas Kristof or Lisa Ling over dinner with any Hollywood hunk, I’ve discovered an alternative to foreign reporting that has shifted my international news ideals. The goal – raising awareness – hasn’t changed, but the strategy has. Instead of sending Western reporters to report on foreign issues, these media organizations I’m interested in allocate their resources to helping local journalists report on humanitarian issues that they have unique access to in their own communities. Even a well-intentioned Western reporter may not be fully equipped with the language skill and cultural understanding needed to access sensitive, nuanced issues such as women’s rights and child labor systems.
Since August, I’ve been keeping a list of international news organizations that cater to grass-roots journalists and the growing number of citizen journalists in developing countries. To varying degrees, these organizations are specifically dedicated to empowering female reporters to report on women’s issues, which are grossly underreported in the media, at large. Check out the Global Report on the Status of Women in the News Media for more details.
“We journalists tend to be good at covering events that happen on a particular day, but we slip at covering events that happen every day – such as the quotidian cruelties inflicted on women and girls.” ~Nicholas D. Kristof, Half the Sky
As I continue to settle into my own stride in the field of journalism, I’ve turned to the following niche news sources for a more diverse take on international humanitarian issues. They each take a unique approach to promoting the work of local journalists and offer detailed reports and training manuals.
Status: founded in 1990; nonprofit
Location: Washington, DC
Mission: “To strengthen the role of women in the news media worldwide as means to further freedom of the press.”
Gender focus: All about empowering female journalists and representing women’s issues in the news.
Status: founded in 1982; nonprofit
Location: California, Washington, DC & News Desks around the world
Mission: “To empower local media worldwide to give people the news and information they need, the ability to connect and the means to make their voices heard.”
Core Initiatives: Provide professional and technical training; ensure sustainability through business models and media innovations; advocate for media law and policy.
Gender focus: Women and Youth Voices is one category of global issues they cover.
Status: founded in 2006; nonprofit
Location: California & News Desks in 25 countries
Mission: “To use journalism as a development tool to educate, employ and empower women, who produce high-quality local news coverage that elevates global awareness and ignites social change.”
Core Initiatives: Promote journalists’ content; provide reporting and ethics training; facilitate global networking; ensure long-term employment.
Gender focus: A network of female journalists reporting on issues within their local communities.
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