Tag Archives: smartphone

Making peace in times of war – the heroes of Vietnam

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Comment faire face au fascisme?

Yannis Youlountas parle de son film “Ne vivons plus comme des esclaves” – un documentaire qui fait le tour des actions, des journaux alternatifs, des radios rebelles et lieux d’occupation et d’autogestion qui se multiplient dans une Grèce en crise.

Pourquoi une mise en ligne gratuite? Youlountas souhaite que l’accès gratuit au film participera à faire réfléchir les gens et contribue à étendre le débat sur la nécessité de rompre avec la marchandisation du monde et de l’humain.

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Résistances – un festival unique

J’ai passé deux jours cette semaine au 17ème édition du festival de films Résistances à Foix en France. Ils se sont donné comme objectif le suivant:

…de promouvoir un cinéma rarement diffusé sur les écrans, pour créer un salutaire étonnement, faire connaître d’autres regards et d’autres cinéastes que ceux du prêt-à-penser habituel.

Alors bravo – ils l’ont bien reussi.

En voici une photo. Je vais télécharger plusieurs interviews vidéo avec des réalisateurs et organisatrices sur la theme l’exercice du pouvoir. Ils sortiront pendant les jours qui suivent via cette chaine Youtube

An audience member at the Résistances film festival in Foix, France. July 11, 2013. Photo Patrick Chalmers.

An audience member at the Résistances film festival in Foix, France. July 11, 2013. Photo Patrick Chalmers.

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And the winner isn’t…

Picture 1

Development reporting suffers exactly the same sort of problems as does  journalism that purports to cover conventional politics and economics – probably worse even. Too much focus on official sources and too little questioning of mainstream Western ideas about what countries and their citizens must do to “develop”. All the arguments of Fraudcast News with bells on when it comes to journalists failing to examine the realities of power, where true power lies and what ordinary people can do about it.

I thought it worthwhile spending a few days working up a grant proposal for the Innovation in Development Reporting Grant Programme run by the European Journalism Centre.

If it worked, I would get paid to do the journalism I attempt to champion in Fraudcast News while also leaving behind some of the same techniques for others who might do the same.

The idea, simple enough, was to produce a series of smartphone video reports from Mali’s  Inner Niger Delta asking the question: “Whose development for Mali?” Rather than just present another foreign perspective on resource grabbing, the idea had been to conduct a mobile phone video report training for Malians, leaving behind the means for local people to then tell their stories as they wished rather than relying on outsiders.

Had the proposal succeeded, I would have been part of a visionOntv training team working together with local and international NGOs working on the ground in Mali. It didn’t, the judges deciding instead to award grants to a variety of ideas shared across a number of media outlets from across Western Europe.

I wasn’t blown away by the winners. None strikes me as addressing the underlying assumptions of “aid” and “development” set against the effects of global trade, banking, financial markets and the rest as they benefit rich countries and global corporations. Shame – it would have been good to have had an opportunity put the ideas into effect with some sort of budget in hand.

Sour grapes? I hope not.

This was the failed proposal:

Development dilemmas in Mali – whose tale to tell?

Malians will go to the polls this July with two military coups and a French-led assault on Tuareg separatist and Islamist rebel groups fresh in their memories. Yet what difference will elections make, however “free and fair”, to the lives of ordinary citizens?

Even before Mali’s recent upheavals in government, subsistence farmers and fishers in the Inner Niger Delta faced ever-lower water levels during annual monsoon floods. While climate change might play some part, far more pressing threats come from hydroelectric dams and river diversions for massive, often foreign-owned irrigation projects.

Locals complain of national politicians who ignore their plight. Bamako leaders, their ears bent towards external creditors, donors and their advisers, promote impossible development models. While chosen policies might boost abstract measures of economic health, they also ruin local livelihoods and the natural environment.

No news there – Mali faces the same economic binds as poor and not-so-poor countries the world over. All struggle with questions of how to meet their populations’ basic needs without paupering citizens and their environments. Only the strongest dare question Western development orthodoxies. Most of them, saddled with debt, fall prey to strings-attached foreign investments, debt-led growth models or demands for privatisations and deregulation. The evident damages of such policies is ignored in the rush to “develop”.

Mali’s various versions of the problem play out in domestic cotton production, gold mining and livestock rearing. None illustrates it better than water, lifeline to communities dotted along riverbanks and seasonal islands across the Inner Niger Delta. Their river’s annual rise and fall follows a cycle quite unlike the ever-upwards demands of compound growth charts. Projects promising fat returns for distant investors, and payback for historic creditors, spell devastation and displacement for locals. Abstract policy becomes practical reality at the sluice gates, where operators decide who gets what water when, the weaker and voiceless invariably losing out.

The global crisis of capitalism, now an open debate in rich countries, has been clear to the world’s poor during decades of Western development policies. Their voice has gradually grown stronger and more authoritative, thwarting biased agendas in world trade and climate talks and driving business at the UN’s General Assembly. As yet they lack the power to counterweight the agenda of rich-country governments, corporations and financial markets. With conventional institutions deadlocked and bereft of fresh ideas, civil societies around the world are among the few offering hopes of alternatives.

This assignment will amplify those grassroots voices and foster civil society dialogue in Mali and beyond. It will bypass gatekeepers in governments and conventional media by publishing mainly direct to the internet. Three highly experienced reporter-trainers will use smartphones to make multiple video reports in the Delta and teach local stakeholder groups to do the same. Their reporting techniques, perfected by London-based NGO visionOntv, cut out the costly time-dumps of video capture, editing and encoding. Reporters’ bi-lingual output, combined with that of workshop participants, will offer multiple perspectives on Mali’s water dilemmas, opening a wider window on development questions themselves.



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Demand the impossible – sounds like the least we can do

‘We’ve created some feminists!’ … A study group on the Demand the Impossible course at Goldsmith’s. Photograph: Frank Baron for the Guardian

I’ve just come across this Guardian report about a free, five-day course at Goldsmith’s College in London on activism and radical politics.

I commented on the piece, criticisng the piss-taking style in which it was written while also including an offer to help out with future courses or with spreading the idea elsewhere.

Just in case such shameless self-promotion gets stripped off the comments section by the moderators, I’m pasting it here

Sounds great – shame the author had to pepper his article with leftie this, leftie that cheeky, chappy stuff.

This sort of teaching shouldn’t be classed as radical at all but part of a balanced, thoughtful education that teaches people to think for themselves rather than turning them into consumer automatons. Our existing system is all capitalist-, profit- and economic-growth driven.

You don’t get accompanying “rightie” this, “rightie” that when it comes to articles about Alan Sugar or Dragon’s Den as they vaunt the benefits of loadsamoney lifestyles that ignore what a complete mess we’re all in as a result.

That would be too “radical” for prime-time entertainment – too many people might get “the wrong ideas”. You’re not allowed to add together one + one to see the result of such thinking as consumer craziness and excess, tottering debt mountains, poverty, inequality, climate change, loss of green spaces, war etc. all that fun stuff which would make crap reality TV, piss off the professional politicians and frighten the business advertisers away. Oh no.

I would love to help out with this course – giving some insight from my own career as a Reuters reporter to talk about how our governance systems fail us and how conventional journalism is generally blinkered to those failures. On the upside, the good news. There are genuine, grassroots alternatives sprouting up around the world that could address both of these problems. There are some Creative Commons materials on my website you can take for free, if you want. I haven’t posted the address for fear of comment removal but I’m sure you can work out how to find it.

What would be interesting is to think about how to seed the ideas of Demand the Impossible to make it deliverable all over the place, not just in the UK.

Creative Commons How to manuals and accompanying video journalism reports made by participants and uploaded online would be good places to start.

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People’s budgets – our cash, why not our call?

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People’s budgets or the same-old unaccountable ones?




The basic message of Fraudcast News is pretty simple, you sort of can’t miss it in the subtitle – How Bad Journalism Supports Our Bogus Democracies.

Working from back to front – the bogusness of our democracies is that ordinary citizens get nothing like the influence implied by the word “democracy” – which the Ancient Greeks defined as government by the people.

The UK  budget process is a case in point, consisting of rounds of closed-door horse trading between government departments and ministers. The latest City-loving Chancellor then waves about a battered red briefcase for the media before delivering some crowd-pleasing stunts at the Dispatch Box to hide the fact that most ordinary people are getting stiffed while status quo money holders carry on swimmingly. Gross over-simplification, of course, but it covers the last 30 years of British government relatively well, save for pre-election sweetener budgets and some of Gordon Brown’s giveaways.

The problem is, ordinary people get not a look in on what is the most important function of elected governments. The same problem occurs at lower tiers of government and let’s not even talk about the European Union.

It doesn’t have to be this way, which is why I’m excited to be going along to report on a People’s Budget event in Kingston-upon-Thames on October 8.

This clip explains why such an approach can transform local governance, improving its accountability, transparency and the fairness of its revenue raising and spending.

So rather than “bogus” democracy – we get something more like real democracy.

And bad journalism? It’s all journalism that ignores the bogusness of our current governance systems, at every level, which is pretty much all mainstream journalism.

After that build up, I hope it’s a good night.

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