We've just added six new projects to our Digital Innovation Library, which now showcases 22 innovative activities supporting freedom of expression across the Global South.
Since its launch in April 2016, DW Akademie's Digital Innovation Library has toured various local and international media development and innovation events including the 2016 digital re:publica conference in Berlin, the World Press Freedom Day in Helsinki, the Global Media Forum in Germany, the German Federal Government's open day in Berlin and the Global Forum for Media Development in Jakarta.
Encounters with diverse audiences have been extremely helpful in terms of recommending additional projects and offering feedback on ways to improve the library.
A quick recap of what the library is
The Digital Innovation Library is an interactive platform showcasing a wide range of exciting digital projects in the Global South. The library highlights how these projects support various aspects of freedom of expression – participation and inclusion, for example, generating a public sphere or holding authorities to account – which are gaining increasing attention in media development circles.
The library has two main sections. The 'Discover' section offers an overview of each project's approach, use of digital technologies, topic focus, and aspects of media development that are relevant to the project. The 'Thematic Search' section provides a factsheet on each project, and that includes background information, a 'behind the scenes' interview and photos.
Combating the silencing of the media
Four of the new projects featured in the library offer insights into their efforts to hold state officials to account either by publishing alternative news or fact-checking information.
Prachatai is a Thai-based independent online news site covering events and issues neglected by mainstream media. The non-profit media outlet is a watchdog and strong advocate for freedom of expression, not only in Thailand but increasingly in other parts of Southeast Asia, as well. Reporters Without Borders lauded Prachatai in its report "Media Hounded by Junta Since 2014 Coup" for maintaining "a critical stance" towards successive Thai governments since the news site was founded in 2004.
On the other side of the world, Radio Dabanga provides unbiased, relevant news to people in Darfur, the war-torn western region of Sudan. The news outlet broadcasts in Arabic and five Darfuri languages, and is one of the only reliable sources of independent news broadcasting to and about the region. Operating from the Netherlands, Radio Dabanga airs several hours of programming a day via shortwave and satellite, and also runs an online news site. It's a thorn in the side of the Sudan government, which has tried several times to silence the popular station. "From my point of view, Radio Dabanga has become important for the people because the radio is providing people with independent information and news," says editor-in-chief Kamal Elsadig.
In Peru, Ojo Público is an online investigative media outlet making a name for itself in the field of data journalism. The organization recently collaborated with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists to help investigate the Panama papers, a trove of 11.5 million leaked files lifting the lid on international tax evasion and money laundering. Co-founder David Hidalgo emphasizes that Ojo Público is an "innovation lab" for investigative journalism. "We add tools to traditional journalistic techniques to enhance quality of research and provide solutions to explore new narratives," he says.
Launched in 2010, Chequeado was the first organization dedicated to fact-checking in Argentina and elsewhere in Latin America. In Argentina's 2015 elections, vice presidential candidate Gabriella Michetti admitted to correcting her party's facts after Chequeado deemed one of her party's statements to be "false".
Amplifying voices that matter
Two additional projects now featured in the library focus on creating spaces for people to tell their stories and be heard.
Map Kibera is a Kenyan organization founded in 2009 with the aim to give visibility to marginalized communities in Kibera, a shantytown in Kenya's capital Nairobi and one of the largest slums in Africa. The project began mapping and developing data on the slum – an area that was once a blank space spot on the map. Recent mapping has found, for example, that just over a quarter of Kibera's students go to a government school whereas the rest attend informal institutions.
U-Report is a messaging tool aimed at increasing community participation. It is used in various ways, from enabling those signed up to the service to text their views on an opinion poll to receiving messages with valuable information on HIV, for example, or sexually transmitted diseases. U-Report is also being used as a citizen journalism tool to help people speak out about issues relevant to their communities. The service was first launched as an SMS-based tool by UNICEF, the United Nation's children's fund, in 2011 in Uganda. Depending on the country of operation (24 countries are currently involved), messages can also be sent and received via social media sites such as Twitter or Facebook. "U-Report is innovative in the way it understands citizen participation," says Maria Luisa Sotomayor from U-Report's Global Coordination Unit. "It doesn't just ask people what they think, but also what they know, what they want to do to improve their situation, and how they can take action," she explains.
DW Akademie will continue to expand the library and foster exchange between project innovators. We welcome your suggestions for additional projects you feel should be included.