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Digital Empowerment Toolkit Now Available!

At World Pulse, we recognize the need for ongoing learning—for you and for your community! Our toolkits aim to provide the resources you need to advance your social change work.

We are excited to introduce our Digital Empowerment Trainers’ Toolkit, a dynamic resource to help you bring the benefits of connecting online to women in your community. Check it out today! »

Module 3 Suggested Activities

  • Use Google Search tips to find resources for your next assignment.
  • Use Google Advanced Image Search to find fair-use images for your assignments.
  • If the fees are reasonable, set up your mobile phone on World Pulse to enable text message posting.
  • If possible, use your mobile phone to take pictures, record audio or video to accompany your assignments.
  • Read through the supplemental materials on Mobile Activism and Security.

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Module 3
Citizen Journalism Learning Materials
Learning Materials with Pixetell
Digital Media Learning Materials
Digital Media Learning Materials, continued
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Module 3 Writing Assignment

Module 1
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Correspondents and Mentors Group

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Digital Media Learning Materials, continued

Mobile Phones

With recent technology advancements, mobile phones have essentially become a computer and a camera in your pocket. More so than traditional desktop or laptop computers, mobile phones are widespread around the world and are quickly transforming media. In this section we will outline some of the tools and resources for using your phone as a citizen journalist or social activist.

Mobile Phones as tools for Citizen Journalism

  • Rapid, on the Ground Reporting
    If you’re the first one on the scene of a news event, you can use your mobile phone to report what is going on instantly by uploading photos, videos, audio or text via mobile applications that keep you connected to the Internet. If your phone is connected to the internet, you can instantly post to Twitter, Facebook or your World Pulse journal and let your network know what’s happening.
  • Staying Connected
    You can also receive information quickly on your phone through Twitter or Facebook updates, or just simple texts from your friends. For example, if your friend texts you about a newsworthy event that is happening in a nearby neighborhood, you could still be one of the first people on the scene.
  • Mobiles as a physical tool
    Depending on the make and model of your phone, you can use it to create photos, videos or audio recordings. When you are conducting interviews, consider using your phone to record the conversation so that you don’t miss any important points. Additionally, you can take pictures or a short video to compliment the story and add richness to the piece. You can even quickly type up your notes as a text or email a message to yourself, and have these available for when you are ready to write up the final draft.

Additional Resources

  • For more detailed information about using your mobile phone as a citizen journalist, please review this excellent toolkit from MobileActive (http://mobilemediatoolkit.org/).
  • Frontline SMS: Text messages can be an effective and affordable way to reach a large number of people directly. Since most people have their phones with them all day, every day, text messages are generally read immediately. One of the premier service providers for mass text messaging is FrontlineSMS (http://www.frontlinesms.com/). This service allows you to send and receive mass text messages for alerting a group to new issues, conducting surveys or receiving important information on a specific topic. For case studies of how NGOs and journalists have used FrontlineSMS, visit this page: http://www.frontlinesms.com/aboutthesoftware/case-studies/

    Remember that this service is not free, so consider the cost and benefits before you start using it in your work.

  • Cel.ly: Currently available only in the US, but looking to expand, Cel.ly allows text-messaging among groups around a specific topic. It is essentially a group chat taking place on your mobile phone.
  • Must Have Apps for Citizen Journalists:

Mobile Phones as tools for Social Activism

Mobile phones are a relatively new tool in social change work, and the lessons learned are still emerging. You can help build the pool of success stories by engaging with your community today.

  • Document events/abuses:
    As mentioned above, mobile phones are a valuable tool for documenting events as they happen and instantly sharing that content with the world. You can use your phone to document rights abuses, public events or to record interviews with participants.
  • Organize people/events:
    Your phone is a great tool for communicating with and organizing groups of people interested in supporting your cause. You can use voice, text message or email features to inform an audience about a meeting, event or specific action campaign.
  • Raise awareness through text campaigns:
    As mentioned above, text messages are an effective way to reach people instantly on a personal level. If you choose to use text messaging to reach a group of supporters, here are a few guidelines to follow:
    • Always have permission: Never send messages to people who haven’t chosen to hear from you via text.
    • Have a specific action: If you don’t ask your audience to do something today (sign this petition, write a letter, attend an event), they will likely not do anything.
    • Be sensitive to time: Engage new sign ups quickly or they might forget about you. But, don’t send too many messages or you’ll overwhelm your audience. Also, don’t send messages at 4am!
    • Don’t rely on text only: Use mobile communication as one tool among many. Use your blog, website and other social media tools to engage your audience.

Additional Resources

This document from The United Nations Foundation and the Vodafone Group Foundation compiles some of the recent trends in using Wireless Technology for Social Change work (http://mobileactive.org/files/MobilizingSocialChange_full.pdf)

For additional information on using mobiles for advocacy, please see these materials from the Tactical Technology Collective: http://www.mobiles.tacticaltech.org/

Mobiles and Security

Using a mobile phone for citizen journalism or social activism comes with a unique set of security concerns. We encourage you to consider the security risks before you engage in this type of activity.

  • Surveillance: Phone calls, text messages and Internet data are all vulnerable to outside observation. There are very few tools available to prevent this unwanted viewing of your information.
  • Location information on pictures/videos: Most often when you upload multimedia content from your mobile, there is specific location information tied to it. Use caution if you want to protect your location.
  • Secure Browsing and Uploading: Whenever possible make sure the sites you access are using the “https” protocol (for example, httpS://www.facebook.com versus httP://www.facebook.com). This ensures that information transmitted is encrypted. So, while someone may be able to see the source, destination, date and time of the information transmitted, they cannot see the actual content itself.

Please review this guide from Mobile Active about more detailed information about mobile security: http://mobileactive.org/mobilesecurity-citizenjournalism

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