Reference News is a tech idea that was crafted initially out of frustration to the fact main stream media will never have the capacity to capture news everywhere and anywhere. This would leave the people with stories worth being told left out, with no ability to tell their story in their locality let alone to the world – this would render many people voiceless!
Overview & Motivation
The outbreak of Covid-19 has put a strain on governments around the world and is adversely affecting particularly vulnerable communities, activists and human rights defenders have also become voiceless, journalists are locked down in their homes and news channels report 90% of the ravages of Corona Virus but forgetting that other societal killer elements still exist and continue to kill even more people than Corona Virus will ever do including by further shrinking existing civic and political spaces. For example, in response to the Covid-19 emergency, In Uganda where up to 8 million people live in poverty, there was a shadowy relief support rendered by the government to see people through the economic ravages of COVID19 this left many to struggle through hunger for three months – these are children, pregnant and lactating mothers, without social security and faced with domestic violence, Hungarian Parliament recently granted PM Viktor Orban the power to rule by decree, in a country that has already witnessed considerable restrictions on democratic spaces; in Colombia, shifting governmental priorities in the wake of the Covid-19 emergency have left rural and indigenous communities unprotected, thus facilitating the targeting of their leaders by illegal armed groups; Chinese activists who denounced the government’s approach to tackling the pandemic have been incarcerated for subversion; Algerian civil society organizations have denounced a government clampdown on anti-regime protesters taking place while the world is distracted by the pandemic. These are only some of the challenges that have resulted from the emergency framework adopted by several governments in response to the spread of Covid-19 but many untold stories are still out there. We want to empower people to be their own news anchors and tell the stories around them, to empower freelance journalism to journalists who might never be hired by a media house, to empower media houses to keep reporting news supported by their entire workforce while they stay at home.
At the same time, the pandemic has bred new responses, and forms of both local and global solidarity, that either build on existing, positive official or unofficial responses to the virus or compensate for a lack thereof. For example, media activists in Brazil, Perú, South Sudan and elsewhere are sharing public health information in their communities, in the form of comics, videos or cartoons; civil society organizations across Latin America are encouraging human rights workers to participate in therapeutic sessions where they can share their feelings through art, whether in the form of artifacts, stories or music.
Against this backdrop, and the obstacles to accessing reliable information regarding how responses to the virus are affecting civil society, synergies between activists and artists are more important than ever. For example, art in all its forms amplifies activism and facilitates conveyance of key messages and information, which may compensate for the lack or manipulation of official narratives. Where civic spaces have shrunk, people sourced news can provide an alternative venue for activists to broaden their movements and support their work despite curtailed democratic spaces. The imaginative spaces that news by people offers can bypass traditional barriers that governments may erect in an attempt to stymie civil society activism, for example, by conveying ambiguous or subtle messages. We recognize that the many news reporters will view stories in different perspectives but in these perspectives the truth will be drawn and fake news will be filtered, marked and condoned, – as such we will be flexible in how we let people tell their news but we will be attentive to inaccurate and damaging news, flag it that every time anyone wants to read fake news the first notification they get is that it is what it is – FAKE NEWS and we shall apply these categories of measures to control and regulate how people post news to help worthwhile stories have a field day.
Theory of Change
In a world where we have mixed stories, we are placing Ref as the mediator, to help us escape the news told by anti-government media and pro-government media, to allow you tell the news in its perfect sense and also take responsibility for your news. This will allow the stories from a remote village like Luuka to be told because CNN might just never make it to anyone’s doorstep in Luuka. We will truly tell world news and with COVID19 getting people locked down, we know that many will be empowered to either get help or fight a bad situation or get a new grand idea that will help society.
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