Monthly Archives: September 2014

Smartphone apps for scanning business cards

In the professional world, it is easy to find yourself with way too many business cards from co-workers, clients, and other associates. They can take up space, can be difficult to sort through, and are often lost. Luckily, there are several smartphone apps available for scanning and storing business cards so that you don’t have to worry about these problems ever again. This article from Computerworld tests and rates 7 business card apps available for you to use.

7 Business Card Apps for Smartphones: Scan ’em and Store ’em

Tech Change discusses pros and cons of web conferencing platforms

Web conferencing has become a popular way for businesses, schools, and individuals to hold meetings and keep in touch. In this article, Tech Change examines 9 popular web conferencing platforms and discusses their pros and cons based on pricing and features.

9 Web Conferencing Platforms for Education and Collaboration 2.0: What Should Your Organization Use?

FP2P post discusses positive ways to write about international development

When writing about work related to international development, it is easy for the narrative to take on a condescending tone. In this post from From Poverty to Power, the author discusses how this can be avoided, and how we can better communicate, write, and reflect on international development efforts.

From Poverty to Power: How to Write about Development without being Simplistic, Patronizing, Obscure or Stereotyping

The Importance of Accurate Information During a Crisis

By Luisa Ryan

Below is the front page of a Liberian newspaper from March this year, at the beginning of the current Ebola crisis.

Ebola

Clearly, the image of the “Ebola victim” is inaccurate, looking more like a screen grab from a horror movie than photojournalism. It evokes fear, it does not inform.

As the Ebola virus has spread across several African countries, the importance of accurate information has been increasingly highlighted.

Aid workers have stressed the importance of getting credible information to people in infected areas on the need to – at least for the time being – change some cultural practices. Funeral traditions, for example, need to change from cleaning and touching the dead, as corpses can still spread the disease. Eating bush meat and other daily practices are also being warned against.

Medical professionals know how the disease spreads, but getting this information to communities has proved problematic. Fighting rumors is problematic. Building trust in communities that have legitimate reason to mistrust outsiders or government agencies is problematic. Many Liberians, it has been reported, didn’t believe Ebola existed until months into the outbreak. They thought instead that it might be a government scheme to profit from donor money being spent on health initiatives in other countries.

This highlights the need not only for accurate information in times of crisis, but also the importance of a tradition of accurate information in times of peace. If the public doesn’t trust the media, or government information, during calm times, it has no reason to trust it when accurate information matters most.

Media development can help build credible media institutions that not only help people to make informed decisions in their everyday lives, but also when information may be lifesaving.

Colorado’s African Community has a Growing Political Presence

Colorado is home to between 40,000 – 50,000 African Immigrants. This article from Colorado Public Radio discusses how they are banding together to make their voices heard in the community, and how Republicans and Democrats alike are trying to court them.

CPR – Why Colorado’s Africans are a Rising Political Force

 

Creating sustainable media in developing countries – how do we do it?

By Luisa Ryan

Media development projects and organizations tend to concentrate on media quality – journalism skills and ethics are generally the main training themes. However, a key concern in developing media sectors is financial sustainability.

Media development partners don’t focus as much on the financial side of the sector. Perhaps this is because financial sustainability is a long term issue, and funding is doled out in 2-5 year cycles, making longer term planning problematic. However, thinking about the money side of media is crucial, and not just in terms of training media administrators on the technical financial management of their organization.

Financial issues can impact on the independence of journalists and media organizations, and hence on the quality of reporting. If the media organization doesn’t bring in enough money to pay staff or to cover expenses, they will be more vulnerable to “pay for play” reporting, or presenting the opinion of whomever can pay the highest fee. If the independence of the media organization is not in question, it may still not be able to hire the best and brightest if offering limited or no salary, or it may have to compete for staff time with better paying jobs.

Media development partners can “prop up” local media with unrealistic salaries, equipment and logistics which the local organization is unable to sustain once the development partner withdraws. Strategies to create income include advertising, transparently paid-for-advertorials (often by international NGOs and other development partners) and increasingly, partnerships with mobile phone operators. But will these be enough to create a sustainable, independent and pluralistic media market?

In the west, we are also struggling with this. In an age of free content, how can good quality journalism survive? How can the media development world learn lessons from the conversations currently being held in the west, to ensure that the media organizations we support in developing contexts are able to continue to deliver high-quality reporting in the absence of donors?