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Citizen Journalism and Effective HIV/AIDS Action


Citizen Journalism and Effective HIV/AIDS Action

To: The HIV/AIDS Network within The Communication Initiative
From: Warren Feek - Executive Director - The Communication Initiative
Change the World: A Toolkit for Citizen Journalists

Hi and best wishes. I was struck by this contribution to The CI network on the theme of Citizen Journalists with specific reference to HIV/AIDS:

"Citizen journalists are playing an increasingly important role reporting on sensitive issues, such as HIV, particularly in countries where free speech and media access is limited."

Can I please encourage you to review that knowledge summary and comment (you can just reply by email to this note or comment and rate in the summary itself) on these questions or any other points you wish to make:

Q1: In your context is the increasingly prevalent "citizen journalism" process (online, on air and in print) opening up the many sensitive issues around HIV/AIDS for increased public recognition and conversation?

Q2: If that is the case is this contributing, in your context, to an increasingly open dialogue on the often very sensitive issues that are an integral part of the HIV/AIDS scenario in almost all contexts?

Q3: If there is a more open dialogue on these sensitive issues is that helping to accelerate effective HIV/AIDS related action in your contexts?

Thanks for sharing your insights, based on your experiences and insights in your contexts, as a support to others engaged in HIV/ADS action.

Best wishes and thanks


Warren Feek
Executive Director
The Communication Initiative

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Thanks for this link,

Thanks for this link, Warren, 
First, this Toolkit for Citizen Journalists and the corresponding  media-based advocacy training efforts of Key Correspondents brought to mind the very vibrant work of PLHIV [people living with HIV] and leader advocates who have already had a major impact on the course of HIV/AIDS treatment - we owe them thanks and can take heart from their successes. For example, this film Fire in the Blood documents the work of leaders like Peter Mugyenyi and Yusuf Hamied and activists like Zackie Achmat (Wikipedia has their histories of activism here:, here: and here:  

It strikes me that Key Correspondents
is taking steps to tap that kind of energy and help direct it to open public conversation - thanks to them as well.

As for your questions, because my work is in communication for development more generally, removed from grassroots activism, I will address Q1 from a media development perspective. I do a limited amount of work editing blogs, and I find that educated people in many countries wish to, can, and do express activism in writing - and do it very well, but they struggle to access media outlets to print their efforts. The Toolkit helps to address this. 

However, media outlets might be interested in the work this Indian NGO, the activist arm of a large media outlet:  For example, their education for all campaign summarised here shows how engaging with citizens can increase their interest both in campaigning and in engagement with media as contributors and consumers. 

All the best to those who are involved in writing and publishing citizen journalism,
Julie Levy 

On Fri, Mar 21, 2014 at 1:11 PM, Development Networks <> wrote:

((( Re

Dear Warren, Thank you for

Dear Warren,

Thank you for drawing our attention to this summary. I look forward to
hearing what fellow network members have to say about the specific
questions you raise.

For my part, I'm interested in some of the issues explored in the
training guide related to the ethics of reporting (e.g., "how to
follow ethical guidelines in your reporting" and "the ethical issues
of photojournalism"). There are indeed compelling reasons for
reporters of all types to exercise caution - especially in light of
the risk of stigmatisation and discrimination (with the adherence to
confidentiality policies that this entails...though perhaps not all
citizen journalists have developed such policies?) - yet at the same
time to open up conversation and share the voices of those who wish to
reveal their stories.

Though not limited to citizen journalism, a few relevant CI summaries
came to mind that others might want to visit and comment on:

Case Study: An Ethics Case Study of HIV Prevention Research on
Facebook: The Just/Us Study

Conducting Safe, Effective and Ethical Interviews with Survivors of
Sexual and Gender-based Violence

There is a network of us discussing ethical issues (of all kinds) in
communication and media for development and sharing upcoming events,
resources, thoughts, etc. Please join us here:

~ Kier Olsen DeVries

Interesting questions but, if

Interesting questions but, if I may, I'd like to start with a more general question around citizen journalism itself.
Citizen journalism has always been a bit of a double edged sword.  It offers a space for a wider range of opinion and perspective to be aired while at the same time it is constrained by the processes of fact checking and journalistic professionalism embodied at least some of the time by at least some of the accredited news media outlets. The space for masking personal opinion, rumour and misinformation within the rubric of 'objective' reporting exists everywhere but it is particularly pronounced in the world of citizen journalism.  On the other hand, there are voices from the margins of society, the poor, the dispossessed, the outsiders that do not get heard through the filtering processes of what we might call 'professional' journalism.  These voices can bring particular insight, challenge accepted wisdom and shine a light on aspects of an issue that may be plain as day to those who live up against the problem and completely invisible to those who do not.

Citizen journalism at its best gives voice to those not often heard and exposes aspects of major issues that are difficult for those not immediately affected to see.  At its worst it is another realm of misinformation, opinion, and propaganda. 

In the past we came to know our media outlets and imbue some with respect and others with opprobrium - the Le Monde or perhaps the New York Times against the yellow journalists and tabloid.  The citizen journalist may be a new form of news in evolution. Over time we could well find ourselves coming to distinguish between citizen sources such as the Key Correspondents network mentioned above and other networks or spaces for citizen journalism in the same way that we have come to distinguish between the reporting of say, the BBC and Fox.

The addition of new voices and perspectives is not a good or bad thing - it is both - and the onus remains on the reader to sort through it and make sense of it as best they can.

On Fri, Mar 21, 2014 at 10:08 AM, Development Networks <> wrote:

((( Re

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