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Filling the gaps in foreign coverage

Matthew Wells

contributes to a range of British media outlets from his home in New York.

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Ethan Zuckerman is about as far away from a big-city newspaper editor as it gets. He lives in rural Massachusetts, is a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, and co-founded a site in 2004 that's dedicated to reaching the parts old media doesn't reach: Global Voices.

The site is a sprawling, dynamic collection of reports from around the world, concentrating on stories and issues that get scant attention in the rest of the media.

I met Zuckerman (above) at an appropriate venue: the Open Video Conference in New York - where bloggers and international new media advocates gathered to eat pizza and talk about the future.

Inspired by working in Ghana, Zuckerman helped found Global Voices after quantifying a "systematic bias" in foreign coverage from the world's main newsgatherers, including the BBC.

While his conclusion that rich and powerful countries get a lot more coverage than poor, developing countries is self-evident, Global Voices is a unique response to the status quo.

As he puts it: "We need journalism to be vastly more than just what we say we want; we need journalism to be perpetually exposing us to a wider range of ideas and provocations." 

Global Voices now has a presence in more than a hundred countries, combining the work of professional journalists and enthusiastic amateurs. It's not intended to rival or replace the New York Times, but operates as an informal, multimedia supplement.

Zuckerman's work highlights the extremes that exist in the mainstream media - especially in the US, where a viewer can go for days without being served up a single in-depth foreign story on the network news. But now they can click on Global Voices for in-depth coverage on the Ecuadorian police strike - in Spanish ...

These are the web pages shown in the film:

Global Voices homepage

Global Voices contributors

Global Voices languages page

Ethan Zuckerman page on Global Voices

Ethan's news mapping paper, 2003

Global Voices manifesto

Bulgaria: Internet Discussions about Nazism

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