…the news organizations that have taken leading roles in shaping this country have consistantly recogized that the pen, as well as the visual image, can be mightier than the sword – and mightier than tyranny or bigotry or demagoguery or political corruption – Rodger Streitmatter

I decided to mine through WITNESS after reading Henry Jenkins’ interview with Sam Gregory from the USC DIY Media event.

For those new to the site, its mission is as follows:

WITNESS uses video and online technologies to open the eyes of the world to human rights violations. We empower people to transform personal stories of abuse into powerful tools for justice, promoting public engagement and policy change.

Founded in 1992 by Peter Gabriel and the Reebok Human Rights Foundation, WITNESS works with groups throughout the world to create voices for selected partners to enhance human rights campaigns.

Did you know about the contemporary slavery in rural Brazil?

Current inspections barely cover half the complaints received from runaway slaves, and although 4,000 workers are released each year, no landowner has ever been imprisoned for the crime of slavery.

Felt very out of touch and naïve. Interestingly, WITNESS identifies one of its greatest battles is the viewer pool itself. According to the Center for Social Media, public/social videos had 150 times less views than the most popular video on YouTube.

Disheartening, no? Although, admittedly, I personally don’t think I could consume back to back social videos without feeling a mixture of the following: a) enraged b) saddened c) empowered. Wonder how WITNESS measures success? And, how they track the progression from viewership to engagement?

On a slightly different note – similar to the introduction of the television, the evolution of media/news outlet are experiencing the growing pains associated with the Internet. The influence of TV on public perception during the Vietnam War is a well documented progression. It’s one of those first things you learn in J315.

Raises the thought of how and to what degree will the Internet revolutionize media now. Certainly, the move is happening – but will the oversaturation dilute the impact?


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