Ivan Sigal - "I Am Interested to See Whether Students Here Might Come up with Some Other Model That We Haven’t Thought Of"




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Aug 03, 2015
by Rachitaa Gupta
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Ivan Sigal - "I Am Interested to See Whether Students Here Might Come up with Some Other Model That We Haven’t Thought Of"

Global Voices partners with Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change Ivan Sigal presenting students of Salzburg Academy on Media and Global change with a challenge

Global Voices has partnered with the ninth annual Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change to present students with a challenge and encourage them to come up with innovative media solutions for the same in the three weeks they will be working at the academy.

Established in 2005, Global Voices, is an online volunteer community of 800 writers, analysts, online media experts, and translators that curates and verifies underreported stories from 167 countries and translates them in to 35 global languages.

“Global voices is a community of largely volunteer writers, editors and translators from all over the world, who concentrate on reporting and covering conversation, stories and perspectives that come out of citizen media, blogs, social media that focus on the global south,” explained Ivan Sigal, a Salzburg Fellow and the Executive Director at Global Voices.

He had last visited Salzburg Global in 2009 when he participated in the Strengthening Independent Media initiative.

Global Voices was founded with the objective of providing an online platform that could pick up “stories that are underrepresented or misrepresented coming out of localities and making them understandable and finding larger audiences for them.”

“It is about not just the right to be heard but the opportunity to listen across cultures, across countries and across languages,’ said Sigal.

Through a large base of volunteer translators, Global Voices publishes stories in 35 global languages. Since, for the most part, it is the volunteers who translate the stories, they also get to decide which stories get translated in to which languages, based on their interest.

“Well it may be true that in few world languages there’s international news. In many languages there’s not very much. So it’s actually an interesting resource to help people find information about other countries in languages they can read,” reiterates Sigal.

The online media platform doesn’t just strive to make stories from marginalized communities global, but also wants to reach these groups with stories from other parts of the world. However, due to several inequities, lack of resources, economic barriers, and government policies, there are lot of barriers that prevent them from reaching these populations.

Sigal said the question of overcoming these barriers and gaps was a core part of their work and something they were constantly working on, like by speaking out against online censorship and supporting new ways for people to gain access to the Internet.

“We have two major programs. One, which focuses on restriction to access because of development issues, inequities, economic-political barriers, gender barriers, and resource barriers. And one about rights, about restrictions to speech, surveillance, privacy rights, and censorship. So it’s a big part of what we do," he specified.

Bridging communities is just one of the challenges that they are facing. Sigal said making the online communities like theirs relevant at a social scale was also important. This was the challenge that Global Voices decided to present to the students of the media academy.

“How do we grow, how do we make our work viable and interesting, relevant for societies? And that means both - do we grow in a way that is more inclusive, that changes the structure of the information sharing or do we seek to grow by sharing and syndicating our content and republishing it so that it is seen by a social level audience. And those things are not mutually exclusive. We are working on both models and I am interested to see whether students here might come up with some other model that we haven’t thought of,” he said.

As this is the first time Global Voices has partnered with the media academy, Sigal stated he was more curious to see the results of the three weeks of collaborations between the students.

“I am always interested to hear from and get feedback from communities outside of Global Voices about our work. I am very interested in critical thinking about what we do, which always helps us to become better. And I thought this would be a great opportunity for us to learn to see what others think about our work and also to present our work to other people. And hopefully to share some of our experiences with the academy.”

To read and join in with all the discussions in Salzburg, follow the hashtag #sac2015 on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

The Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change: Civic Voices: Justice, Rights, and Social Change is part of the Salzburg Global series “Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change” and is  held in partnership with American University of BeirutAmerican University of SharjahBournemouth UniversityJordan Media InstituteEmerson CollegeIberoamericana UniversityPontificia Universidad Catolica ArgentinaSt. Pölten University of Applied SciencesChinese University of Hong KongUniversity of MarylandUniversity of MiamiUniversity of Rhode IslandUniversity of St Cyril and Methodius, and University of Texas.