Listening to global voices

By Simon Barrow
January 19, 2010

Citizen-based media is revolutionising the way we see, understand and respond to tragedies like that unfolding in post-earthquake Haiti. And not just in terms of speed.

From a multiplicity of eye-witness accounts and ripostes to the likes of Pat Robertson and Rush Limbaugh, right through to people-syndicated fundraising efforts and mobilisation against the 'Shock Doctrine' advocates who would exploit the situation to promote cannibal economics... the net and the blogsphere have provided fresh avenues for action.

Yes, of course, new media are also magnets for mean-spiritedness and ignorance. A critical awareness is needed, as Sande Ramage rightly reminds us - . But as I often find myself saying when cyber pessimism is rife - it really isn't surprising that the net reflects back to us the worst aspects of human behaviour. Anyone with their antennae attuned to reality would expect that, sadly. What's much more significant and encouraging, for those who would light candles rather than just curse the dark, is the potential of the digital world to magnify the good ( and the just.

Among the many positive media ventures that illustrate this is Global Voices ( GV is a community of more than 200 bloggers around the world who work together to bring a growing and participative audience translations and reports from blogs and citizen media everywhere, with an emphasis on voices and perspectives not ordinarily heard in international mainstream media. (This is also the commitment underlying Ekklesia's news briefing service, incidentally).

One of GV's contributors, Nicholas Laughlin, has recently provided valuable insider 'Updates from outside Port-au-Prince' (, for example.

Global Voices was founded in 2005 by former CNN Beijing and Tokyo Bureau Chief, Rebecca MacKinnon and technologist and Africa expert, Ethan Zuckerman while they were both fellows at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. The idea for the project grew out of an international bloggers’ meeting held at Harvard in December 2004 and it began as a straightforward blog.

The initiative quickly expanded through patronage from the Berkman Center, support from Reuters, the MacArthur Foundation, and the energy and creativity of its contributors.

So happy 5th anniversary, Global Voices. May you keep flourishing -

You can also link to GV via Twitter:

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.