Google's philanthropic spending spree has just dropped another $2.7 million to fund innovative uses of journalism in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. After all, Google and YouTube have been a lens through which citizen journalists focused the world's attention on the Middle East revolutions and natural disasters that have dominated the news cycle (at least until Oscars weekend). So, we rounded up 5 innovative models to inspire the entrepreneurial journalists seeking the coveted Google award.
Global Girl Media
Global Girl Media is a youth empowerment organization devoted to illuminating social issues through the underprivileged girls they train as journalists to tell the story. The nonprofit seeks to benefit communities "by supplying the equipment, education and support necessary to help young women become digital and blog journalists, bringing their own unique perspective on their lives, their communities and world events to the global web and social media community," according to their website.
Global Girl Media has a slick design and an all-star cast executive board of producers, on-air personalities, and directors. While nascent journalistic operations may not have the funding or star-power of Global Girl Media, it is entirely possible that an intrepid entrepreneur could convince a local sponsor or celebrity to help bootstrap their cause.
Ushahidi (yoo-sha-hee-dee) is a crisis-response data platform that allows users to overlay critical information on a public map. Ushahidi's open source platform was instrumental in providing location information in Haiti, identify voter intimidation in Sudan, and track United Nations aid effectiveness.
Uncut: Revolution Televised
Evidence of government misdeeds and video contradicting official reports is likely hidden within the volumes of raw eye-witness revolution footage uploaded to the Internet. Uncut: Revolution Televised seeks to comb through 16 hours of footage from 300 clips with the help of those in the community who could identify story leads. Uncut is focused on evidence from the 2009 "Twitter" revolution in Moldova. However, this idea would be easy to replicate for the Middle East revolutions, and could be adapted to serve protester interests in real-time or used later as evidence in an international human rights court.
CNN's former Senior International Editor, David Clinch, co-founded Storyful to provide an editorial filter for the firehouse of streaming online news. Stories are separated by event (Egypt, New Zealand earthquake, etc.) and read in a vertical, chronological newsfeed, intermixing selected tweets, YouTube videos, and other on-the-ground sources. Most recently, YouTube partnered with Storyful to curate a selection of the best videos.
Like Storyful, Crowdvoice aggregates stories surrounding a single event and also adds a Reddit-like user interface where users vote particular sources up or down, share them across social networks, and follow them as an RSS feed. Unlike Storyful, Crowdvoice is not editorially driven and includes links to legacy media outlets.
Even without funding, eye-witness sources have found surprisingly inexpensive ways to tell stories. For instance, it was recently reported that protesters sent coded messages through a popular Middle Eastern dating site in order to bypass detection from Libya's secret police. We are eager to see what innovations a little institutional support will produce.
[Image: Flickr user brionv]