Greetings from this year's Future of News and Civic Media Conference in Boston. The Knight Foundation has just announced this year's winners of their annual News Challenge grant competition. Rising Voices got started as a News Challenge grantee back in 2007, and in 2008 several other grantee projects were funded that also aim to make participatory media more accessible to under-represented communities. They include Community Radio in India, Video Volunteers, Signcasts, Freedom Fone, and The News is Coming. This year, with the global economy suffering, the Knight Foundation scaled back its funding considerably, but a couple of this year's winning projects will be of interest to the Rising Voices community.
MobileActive.org has long been one of the leading resources on the internet for activists, citizen journalists, and NGO's wanting to take advantage of cell phone technologies in their work. Unlike the internet – where you can build tools that work on every computer – building tools and applications for cell phones depends on the model of the phone, the phone's operating system, and the service provider. “The Mobile Media Toolkit will offer media production tool sets for download and use on a variety of phones across regions of the world. The toolkit will include applications for video and audio recording, a distribution tool for mobile content to social media sites and detailed how-to information that outlines what users can do with the phones they have.”
In the meantime I highly recommend MobileActive's guide “A Mobile Voice: The Use of Mobile Phones in Citizen Media.” Juliana Rotich and I also gave a presentation at last year's MobileActive conference in South Africa about Mobile Citizen Media.
Ushahidi is a free and open source project with developers hailing from Kenya, Ghana, South Africa, Malawi, Netherlands and the USA who all collaborate to improve the credibility and visualization of citizen reporting during times of crisis. With the recent events in Iran, it is clear that we need better tools and systems to confirm when information coming from Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and SMS is accurate and where it is coming from. Ushahidi is building tools, processes, and communities to do exactly that. I highly recommend following Ushahidi's blog and exploring their website.
You can take a look at all of this year's winners here.
All the best,