Nigeria just welcomed its first president from the ranks of an opposition group and a small group of citizen journalists can now pat themselves on the back for their roles in reporting coverage of the election all through the use of their smartphones.
In November, a group of journalists called ‘On Our Radar‘ traveled to the Niger Delta to teach and train 36 aspiring citizen journalists some tricks and tips to the trade. They focused on how mobile phones can be used in the reporting process, and used a combination of SMS and WhatsApp to submit photos, videos, and text and audio stories.
In an article with All Africa, Paul Myles, On Our Radar’s UK-based editorial manager, shared his thoughts on collaborating with technology.
“SMS and a mobile phone is almost the lowest common denominator for access for our reporters, even in regions without electricity,” said Myles.
Stories that journalists send go straight to Radar’s “central hub”, a custom-built web app that the Radar editorial team can access securely from anywhere in the world, before Myles and his colleagues connect the reporters and their stories with larger news organizations.
“It’s the same backend hub as we were using before the Ebola coverage,” he said, referring to last summer’s outbreak when citizen journalists in Sierra Leone, trained by Radar for the 2012 election, shared stories from areas the mainstream media could not – or would not – reach.
Local media organizations are also becoming more involved with citizen journalists and their work. Several stations have aired footage submitted through WhatsApp and are beginning to form partnerships with the citizen journalists and their projects.
Radar’s mission is to give a voice to those who often go unheard and to provide a powerful outlet they can turn to. By using simple forms of technology, those in the most isolated areas of the world are still able to bring their thoughts and views to the table.