At the start of the Chinese New Year, Guangzhou-based weekly Nanfang Zhoumo planned to run an editorial calling for constitutional reforms in China. But the original version never appeared in the paper. Instead, the piece could only be published after extensive revisions from a Propaganda Department official.
That's where Reporters Without Borders stepped in. WeFightCensorship (WeFC), its secure portal aimed at making censorship obsolete, made the original version of the editorial available on a global scale.
Reporters Without Borders launched the site as a way for journalists and bloggers to submit articles, photos, video or audio that were all or partly banned in countries prone to government censorship.
So far, the site has received reports from Belarus, Brazil, China, Cuba, India, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Morocco and Syria. All reports are published in English and French. The site also accepts articles that were originally published in Arabic, Chinese, Persian or Russian.
Contributors can submit content via a "digital safe" that protects the anonymity of the user. Submissions aren't published automatically, but are first vetted by an editorial committee for accuracy and quality. Currently, the majority of contributions come from a network of 150 correspondents based at RWB's regional desks around the globe, enabling on-the-ground verification of submitted reports, Delphine Halgand, U.S. director of RWB, told IJNet.
WeFC also makes it easy to create a mirror version of the site, so that every piece of banned content published on WeFC will be instantly duplicated. WeFC operates under the "Streisand Effect," which means the more a censor tries to quiet a piece of online content, the faster the Internet community will try to spread it. The more versions of the content are available online, the harder it is to censor the information.
The website also features an Online Survival Kit, offering resources on how digital journalists can best protect themselves online. Here you can learn tips for journalists visiting Iran, how to send encrypted emails and all about virtual private networks.
IJNet Editorial Assistant Margaret Looney writes about the latest media trends, reporting tools and journalism resources.
Image CC-licensed on Flickr via IsaacMao.