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SuperPower: BBC and Global Voices

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Steve Herrmann Steve Herrmann | 08:55 UK time, Monday, 8 March 2010

You may notice an extra feature on some of the news stories on the News website in the coming days.

As part of the BBC's SuperPower season - a special series on the internet - we will be teaming up with Global Voices, a non-profit blogging network of citizen journalists, to present a different range of perspectives and commentary from around the world.

We are no strangers to involving a range of voices in our newsgathering process - and we have long incorporated into our journalism the knowledge, eyewitness reporting and opinion of our audiences in the UK and internationally.

But we think Global Voices, which specialises in giving individuals the tools and support to comment and report on the issues that matter to them, could add an interesting extra dimension to some of our news coverage.

So over the next two weeks we'll be selecting from, and linking to, relevant posts from Global Voices' network of 200 bloggers and citizen journalists and we'll also be asking Global Voices editors to give their views on how the mainstream media handle the news.

I think a good point is made by Ivan Sigal, Global Voice's executive director, when he says:

"The idea that citizen journalism is somehow opposed to or in conflict with traditional journalism is now clearly past; it's evident that both exist in symbiotic relationship to one another, with many opportunities to collaborate on the creation of news, storytelling and distribution of content."

This will be a chance for us to explore that relationship. See what you think.

Steve Herrmann is editor of the BBC News website.


  • Comment number 1.

    I'm offering a citizen's voice on International Women's Day. Yesterday the well-attended Reclaiming Birth Rally, which marched from Lambeth Road to Whitehall, did not receive coverage on BBC news. The Rally, concentrating midwives and student midwives, birth rights activists, parents and kids and people of all ages, demanded women's choice of place of birth, high quality maternity services for all, continuity of care, and no NHS cuts in this vital area for citizens' wellbeing. Many photos and videos are available from organisations who co-organised the Rally: AIMS, NCT, ARM, IMUK, Albany Mums, and participants (I was there as King's College London researcher with the Birthplace in England programme). I hope you'll give this event and coverage due coverage, on International Women's Day and after.

  • Comment number 2.

    Better late than never.

    Well? Get on with it!

  • Comment number 3.

    What's the difference between 'citizen' journalism and any other sort? Is it just that citizen journalists are not paid to report the news?

    It certainly does not make the citizen journalist any better informed or less biased than a journalist who reports the news for a living. What it does do - and this is a good thing - is increase the diversity of voices, and the range of events reported upon. The actual reporting still needs to be subject to the same tests as paid-for journalism: Is it factually accurate? Is it a balanced account or is it coloured by the journalist's opinions? Is it interesting? Well-written?

  • Comment number 4.

    Personally I think the BBC is wrong to link up with this group.

    Global voices advocates "a global anti-censorship network of bloggers and online activists dedicated to protecting freedom of expression and free access to information online".

    Which when compared to the BBC's left-wing reporting and moderation of alternative views on its Editor & HYS blogs seems to be the wrong sort of group for the BBC to work with.

  • Comment number 5.

    I have just listened to a report on internet connection in Nigeria, the reporter was doing a piece on internet access. He had two cell phones to give to the local community to access internet and discover how it can impact their lives and the lives of all, unfortunately both free phones went to men, i felt it my responsibility to urge men/ journalists to recognize that our role is as important, if not more important in the world community. He should have had the wisdom to give a phone to both genders if he wanted a complete perspective on how technology can impact a society. Very disappointing and another example of lack of insight in recognizing the value of all in the community.

  • Comment number 6.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 7.

    i think this experiment is just the perfect combination to produce a broader view of today's events and opinions worldwide, to help each of us to better understand them, and also it preserves the overall autonomy of both GV and BBC (no marriage of sorts, right? ;)

    as for a "balanced account", i believe the strenght of citizen journalism relies instead in providing personal and individual perspectives, intimate thoughts and "biased" viewpoints, live and direct experiences on the ground, here&now; what is crucial here is the molteplicity of voices and conversations that such environment produces, an open flow of communication back and forth, a multi-directional channel always on

    requiring "balanced accounts" from motivated and intelligent but ordinary people, you and me, and everybody else, will just make the world (more) flat, no? ;)

  • Comment number 8.

    > we will be teaming up with Global Voices,
    > a non-profit blogging network of citizen
    > journalists, to present a different range
    > of perspectives and commentary from around
    > the world.


    I tried typing "men's rights" into their search engine. It found four matches; three were all references to the same story and one was a woman complaining about too much emphasis on men's rights.

    Then I tried "women's rights". The search stopped listing options at just over 200.

    "to present a different range of perspectives and commentary from around the world."

    No. Just the same old, same old.

  • Comment number 9.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 10.

    With regard to "balance", an acquaintance of mine who died a few years ago was managing editor at the Birmingham Post.

    His advice was there should be three qualities by which to judge a piece of journalism.

    Truth, fairness and kindness.

    If a piece passed TWO of these tests then it could be published.

    Unfortunately we can all find articles that fail to meet ANY of these tests, especially in the red-tops.

    John Daniels was a lovely man - he is sadly missed.

    Good luck with the project.

  • Comment number 11.

    Steve Herrmann. The story that you published about the Fans at Donington was completely inaccurate. How can you host a GlobalVoice for citizen journalists if you can't be relied upon to get the facts and copy right.

    In addition, I pointed this out to you yesterday in a comment which had no content which would break your rules and has been suppressed. I would like info on how to complain to the Governors about bad journalism and broadcasting please

  • Comment number 12.

    I'm saddened to see some of the comments here. I think this is a great initiative. An imbalance in female to male voices in Global Voices? I can think of a million reasons for this from the fact that many more women than men are prepared to volunteer, to redressing the balance.

    Global Voices covers numerous topics in parts of the world not usually covered by traditional media and this could be a really interesting initiative.

    Well done the BBC for being prepared to try it out!

  • Comment number 13.


    I think this is a superb initiative and I agree with Claire (#12) - it is quite sad to see some of the cynical comments being made on this BBC development. It seems that unfortunately many of the commentators are still stuck in the realm of traditional broadcasting. When they finally embrace the Internet and see the value of citizen reporting as a complementary source of data rather than a replacement of traditional journalism I think your initiative would be appreciated in all its glory.

    I have only recently discovered Global Voices and found it to be an excellent platform to cover news of public interest but that has been overlooked by traditional media for whatever reason. If enough attention is attracted to such forums by the likes of powerful media players such as the BBC, issues such as service delivery in South Africa reported on by active local residents and public opinion on political officials behaviour will finally get the airtime they deserve.

    Well done BBC and I look forward to seeing this work out for you!
    Pratish - South African cartoon blogger

  • Comment number 14.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 15.

    Can you tell me why EW's are being transferred from their trade on board ships in the Royal Navy to be foot soldiers looking for bombs in Afghanistan? I would have thought this was for British Army soldiers trained in this field and not Royal Navy sailors being denied from continuing their trades.

  • Comment number 16.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 17.

    Why is it that there is never any opportunity to talk about issues that are really important. Compared to whats going on in the middle east, Afganistan, Iraq, Iran, Israel and Palestine this is all crazy. It seems you will only have topics that won't get so much interest, won't cause controvicy and won't go against what you stand for.
    For example, at last USA is putting their foot down with Israel, a great topic to talk about and discuss but of course you don't like it so we don't get a chance to show how much we all agree its time for this.
    You have also changes this system that shows how many people agree with what is written.
    I doubt this will get published as it doesn't agree with your new controlling system. There is no way to check either it seems unless you want to read through pages and pages of comments to check if it was published.
    The change here is quite obviously for the worse.

  • Comment number 18.

    First of all the BBC should look into it's own obvious labour bias.
    Look at Nick Robinson's blog if you need proof.

  • Comment number 19.

    The following may be interest for SuperPower.

    There's emerging free technology for a kind of "Social Media 2.0" -- Executable English Knowledge Capture for Question Answering on the Web.

    This starts by noting that data by itself is necessary, but not enough, for many practical uses of the Web.

    What's also needed is knowledge about how to use the data to answer an ever increasing number of questions -- such as, "How much could the US save through energy independence?".

    The technology can leverage social networking for the significant task of acquiring and curating the necessary knowledge -- in the form of Executable English.

    You can Google "Executable English" to find it. It's free, and there are no advertisements.

  • Comment number 20.

    Don’t forget the things you once you owned. Treasure the things youcan’t get. Don't give up the things that belong to you and keep thoselost things in memory

  • Comment number 21.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 22.

    Will it cover 9/11 Truth issues?

  • Comment number 23.

    As a sub-editor, let alone a listener who loves his English language, it is always dismaying and annoying to hear a grammatical solecism slip past the editor on the sacroscant news; I have just heard one on the 6 o'clock news: "...Schumacher... is 17 years older than him". Please someone remind the editor that a comparative does NOT take an object in these cases; the correct phrase is: "Schumacher... is 17 years older than HE is"! The "is" is almost always implied and left out, which leads to the all too-common mistake; BBC news is not colloquial and the rules of written and spoken grammar should be observed at all times.

  • Comment number 24.

    some points that probably will not be mentioned in your super power season.
    one, what influence do extra terrestrials have on the way the so called super powers conduct world affairs? I strongly suggest a reading of Richard Dolands books, also Steven Greer, Timothy Good amongst many others, for perspective on this.
    there is invariably a hidden agenda behind anything political we see on the mainstream media.
    next, what influence do the Bilderberges have, The Rothschilds, the council on foreign relations and also the trilateral commission, these important power brokers are seldom if at all mentioned.
    somehow they are inextricably tied in to what is known about the extra terrestrials. The CIA, NSA, I assume, MI5/6, are aware of this . But the media is silenced about it.
    Next the agenda for world government. The spoof that was global warming, was to all appearances to create this world authority via taxation of carbon emissions. I suggest listening to Lord Monckton and Alan watts, on this. Also Alec Jones, David Icke etc.
    Now, will all the issues here be whitewashed as of no relevance? I assume so. Which is why I take little or no interest in the mainstream media. What is really powering world politics is never given proper attention it seems. The vast majority are indeed sheeple and the mainstream media a worthy shepherd for the power elites. One last question, why are the politicians so terrified of telling what they know is the truth and what is really going on behind the scenes? Or what is actually coming our way????
    I take interest in seeing if this is published!!!

  • Comment number 25.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 26.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 27.

    Could someone tell me why there are so many repeat programmes on the BBC. Just take a look at BBC 1 tonight (Sunday 14th March).
    It is a total disgrace.
    What are we paying the license fee for?
    If you, the moderators, do not post this comment, then tell me who I can contact at the BBC.

  • Comment number 28.

    Why stop at linking to citizen blogging ? There is a wealth of material on the internet, from all kinds of points of view that are based on factual information, but where people have been able to reach reasonable conclusions based on those facts, that are in fact not balanced (which too often means maintaining a neutral but misleading non-informative 'status quo' approach to what happens in society) One small example of the latter was the general mainstream media reporting of all the WMD nonsense that US & UK politicians wanted people to believe. Most of the people I know, and myself, checked out all the credible sources available online and all of us came to an extremely quick conclusion that it was a false case, and a trumped up pretext for war, which was the case. The point being that the mainstream media, whether balanced or propagandist in nature, fell far short of even working out what the real facts were, or what the underlying dynamics were, which is the case with far too many 'news' stories.

  • Comment number 29.

    a soccer pre madona who has everything weeps over an injury which may stop him going to the world cup, I wonder if the SAS man who is dug into a fox hole somewhere in afghanistan has any sympathy for him

  • Comment number 30.

    The BBC is an extreme left-wing, new world order propaganda organisation. Any connection to an organization like Global Voices can only result in more extremist collaboration. We can expect the lies, the refusal to accommodate difference and diversity, the silencing of alternative views, the avoidance of open debate and the ignoring of experiential truths to continue.


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