International news service specializes in good news

by H.J. Cummins
Oct 30, 2018 in Miscellaneous

A multicultural, international news service wants to change the adage that no news is good news.

Istanbul-based non-profit Silent Heroes, Invisible Bridges wants to promote peaceful co-existence amongst nations, cultures and religions of the world.

The news service started out as a project for an International Center for Journalists online course called Reporting Across Cultures: Freedom of Expression in the Digital Age.

Working as a team, Naveed Ahmad, from Pakistan, Alia Turki Al-Rabeo, from Syria, and Ruzanna Tantushyan, from Armenia, produced an inspiring multimedia story about a Syrian family in Pakistan whose life’s work has been to find jobs – and good incomes – for thousands of their new countrymen.

The Al-Barmawys family moved to Pakistan more than 30 years ago to begin an employment company that has now placed more than 10,000 Pakistanis in jobs outside the country. The story points out that foreign placements like these bring about US$7 billion a year to the country. It also describes the gratitude of the Al-Barmawys’ clients, who have brought them dates, sweets and even a cell phone.

The site is still in its infancy – with six stories and six commentaries published to date and new features scheduled every two weeks – and seeking contributors to add to its roster of 70 stringers, editors and translators from around the globe.

They see their potential customers as any press, TV or radio station – but particularly those that don’t cover much international news themselves. The stories are available free of charge through the website, YouTube, Facebook page and blog in English and Arabic. (Next up are editions in Turkish and Urdu, and there are plans to add French, German and Spanish later.)

Ahmad and Al-Rabeo hope the news service will become self-supporting. They have sold some ads on the website and are hearing from other interested advertisers. Yet another goal is to train journalists across developing nations in digital media.

“Intolerance seems to be growing in the world,” Al-Rabeo said. “Stereotyping is rampant, but the on-the-ground reality is that people have co-existed for centuries, regardless of their beliefs, skin color and traditions. We look for the human stories of this co-existence. Silent Heroes, Building Bridges aims to be the best source for exclusive, real and inspiring stories of cross-cultural and cross-religious integration and assimilation.”

A version of this story originally appeared on ICFJ Anywhere