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How social media tools provide a voice for global development

How social media tools provide a voice for global development

Andy Shuai Liu | April 24, 2012

Local stories told through social media help drive global discussions on issues like sustainable development and climate change.

This was the main message from a recent panel titled “Local Climate, Global Change,” held during the Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank in Washington.

Panelists exchanged insights on communications and development journalism around Connect4Climate, a global campaign on climate change that runs a video contest for African youth.

“We should stop calling social media ‘social media’ but ‘media,’ as all media will soon be inherently social,” said Rami Khater, Al Jazeera’s senior new media producer. “Information on development can now be found at the local level to drive global discussions and create change.”

Here are some practices and tools shared during the discussion:

  • The Stream,” a daily TV show Khater produces on Al Jazeera, gives voice to members of its vibrant global social media community. People connect through online channels like Google Hangout to ask questions and raise concerns on public issues to a global audience. Khater says this empowers the “voiceless” to tell their stories effectively for real impact. (Read about the launch of "The Stream" here and a review here.)

  • The Third Pole Project of ChinaDialogue and InternewsEarth Journalism Network (EJN) harnesses citizen journalism to raise awareness of environmental issues in the Himalayan region. The project brings together a team of reporters to write about climate change in Asia and engage on social media, and provides mobile phones to women in remote Himalayan villages to tell stories in their own words. “When reporters are asked to tell complex, local stories with global effectiveness, we developed this model to integrate all kinds of social media onto a platform where journalists, NGOs, academics and policymakers discuss sustainable development,” said the project’s director Joydeep Gupta.

  • Microsoft’s Local Impact Map is another tool where journalists can find local data and stories on development. The online interactive map collects and shares stories told by local organizations and citizens worldwide, and shows the impact technologies have on development at the local level. Tara Grumm, Microsoft’s senior marketing manager, said it enables other organizations to create their own local impact maps.

Photo: Panelists of “Local Climate, Global Change” (from right) -- Andrew Steer (Special Envoy for Climate Change, World Bank), Rami Khater, Tara Grumm, Joydeep Gupta

@andyshuailiu