Rachel Sterne is CEO of GroundReport, a global citizen news platform that empowers anyone to publish and earn money from original, intelligent reporting. She founded the platform in 2006 with the mission to democratize the media and help the world share its stories.
You can find a brilliant, if long interview with her at Breaking News. And no, it’s not yet another article that will tell you that newspaper are dying and that social media is the new game. Ground Report looks like a real cradle of organised citizen reporting that seems far more trustworthy than Twitter and far more diverse and interesting than mainstream media.
[Via Breaking News & Jonathan Stray]
I’ll admit that I had some trouble with picking the tile for this post. I’m trying to keep this blog politics and bad words-free you see, so before this post became what it is it was meant to be just ‘Free Tibet’ (but then I didn’t want to be yet another person screaming activist thoughts into the web), then ‘F*ck China’ (but then I started feeling guilty about the F word again) or something like ‘Peace Bookings’. The first two may come intuitively to most who read the original title, but the third one may be a bit of a throw-off. Well, just keep reading.
I’m on holidays in Poland right now and will continue to reenvelop myself in my hometown and the Polish countryside for the next week and a half. I don’t watch TV back ‘home’: I refuse to have the cable coctail of some value and mostly nonsense come into my home in London. Probably because of this self-imposed restraint, TV has a pretty mesmerising effect on me whenever we do come face-to-face. Just now I finished watching an excellent documentary called ‘Dispatches: Undercover in Tibet’ by Tash Despa.
Despa fled Tibet 11 years ago. If you’re a bit behind on why anyone would flee Tibe, the BBC has a very handy Q&A section on the history of the Chinese-Tibetan conflict. To make the film, Despa returned to Tibet with a hidden camera to film stories of torture, murder and forced sterilisation that China does not want the world to hear. Besides the horrors described in the film, one can also easily pick up on a long-term plan of the Chinese government to eradicate the Tibetans culturally, linguistically and by their sheer power of numbers of Chinese immigrants pouring into the region. Tibetan resources’ value is estimated at $ 81.3 billion not to mention other strategic gains China is in for through their occupation of the region.
To stop the rant and try to do something a little more useful in the short term, I’ll get to the original third title option of this post, that is ‘Peace Bookings’. Peace Bookings is a site that has affiliate relationships with dozens of travel sites. Each time you click through a link to book something, a small commission for the sale (US $1 – $5) is diverted to their account that supports humanitarian causes in Tibet and Myanmar. The prices of tickets are not raised, but the commission still gets to the right hands. Through it would probably destroy Peace Bookings, it would be nice to see Kayak or other big booking sites enable similar services.
Wikileaks is a developing platform for leaking and reading uncensored documents stemming from oppressive governments and internal corporate environments and at this point includes over 1.2 million documents. ‘Our primary interest is in exposing oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, but we are of assistance to people of nations who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their governments and corporations,’ says the description of Wikileaks. According to the Times, Wikileaks ‘could become as important a journalistic tool as the Freedom of Information Act’ by providing a safe haven for those who want to expose injustice, violence or corruption within their governments or corporations without the fear of being exposed or persecuted.
Wikileaks was started by Chinese dissidents, journalists, mathematicians and start-up company technologists, from the US, Taiwan, Europe, Australia and South Africa. Since January 2007 Wikileaks has been banned by the Chinese government. What about authenticity, you may ask; just as one can make claims about the authenticity of common knowledge on Wikipedia, one can make ones about whether what is being released on Wikileaks is authentic information. Wikileaks however claims the following: ‘Wikileaks staff, who are investigative journalists, forensically all documents and label any suspicions of inauthenticity based on a forensic analysis of the document, means, motive and opportunity, cost of forgery and so on. We have become world leaders in this, have never, as far as anyone is aware, made a mistake’. Beyond the chances of making mistakes, Wikileaks provides an important channel of free information and a source of increasing government and corporate transparency.