19
Oct 15

Is it about (good) news or real change? – journalism and social media storytelling of development

By Isabel Marques da Silva

good-news-1200x674

Good, positive, constructive or solutions-based journalism is a trend that has been on the rise in the the last two decades, in parallel with an increased use of internet platforms and logics for the production and consumption of stories taking place in the so-called developing world.

But what does it say about mobilisation for action and social change when the ‘alternative’ storytelling from journalists and/or citizens dissatisfied with the traditional, westernised and colonial point of view of that world, (creating for that purpose alternative blogs and ‘marginal’ news websites) evolves to also become a tool for Western development agents in their communication efforts, such as the journalistic awareness campaign “World’s Best News” by Danish aid agency DANIDA, (in cooperation with UN, 100 NGOs and 100 private companies) about the Millennium Development Goals?

What are the challenges for storytelling about development and appeals to mobilisation when pursuing new media trends and tools such as “Solutions Journalism Network”, “Positive News”, “Sparknews.com” and “Reporters d’Espoirs”? How are mainstream journalism organisations balancing their professional acquis with riding these new media trends, such as “Huffington Post’s” Positive News column or “The Guardian” Global Development section?

Continue reading →


05
Oct 15

From ‘villains’ to ‘heroes’, by IOM – perceptions about migration in the public sphere

by Isabel Marques da Silva

herois

The 21st century’s (big) enthusiasm about the potential of new media for fast and generalised social change is not without conceptual basis, and has been underpinned by its theoretically established features: ubiquity, interactivity, recombination, and networking (Leah Lievrouw, 2011, p. 15). But recent research shows that online activism and advocacy are not a contemporary magic wand with super catalytic powers for mobilisation and civic engagement. The ‘click activism’ shortcomings are well documented in the article about the “Save Darfur Cause” on Facebook, (1 billion members, 100,000 USD in donations) where Kevin Lewis, Kurt Gray and Jens Meierhenrich (2014, p.7) state that “Facebook is less useful a mobilization tool than a marketing tool (…) it largely failed to transform these initial acts of movement participation into “a deep and sustained commitment to the work” (Land, 2009, p.220)”.

But halfway between marketing (of trends/concepts) and mobilisation (for action/participation), I argue that new media can have a ‘transitional’ role in what concerns discussion in the public sphere. An example is the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) use of new media to influence perceptions about migration, specifically in Europe, with internal campaigns, but also in association with external partners.

Continue reading →