Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘youth media’

On November 14 Technology Salon NYC met to discuss issues related to the role of film and video in development and humanitarian work. Our lead discussants were Ambika Samarthya from Praekelt.org; Lina Srivastava of CIEL, and Rebekah Stutzman, from Digital Green’s DC office.

How does film support aid and development work?

Lina proposed that there are three main reasons for using video, film, and/or immersive media (such as virtual reality or augmented reality) in humanitarian and development work:

  • Raising awareness about an issue or a brand and serving as an entry point or a way to frame further actions.
  • Community-led discussion/participatory media, where people take agency and ownership and express themselves through media.
  • Catalyzing movements themselves, where film, video, and other visual arts are used to feed social movements.

Each of the above is aimed at a different audience. “Raising awareness” often only scratches the surface of an issue and can have limited impact if done on its own without additional actions. Community-led efforts tend to go deeper and focus on the learning and impact of the process (rather than the quality of the end product) but they usually reach fewer people (thus have a higher cost per person and less scale). When using video for catalyzing moments, the goal is normally bringing people into a longer-term advocacy effort.

In all three instances, there are issues with who controls access to tools/channels, platforms, and distribution channels. Though social media has changed this to an extent, there are still gatekeepers that impact who gets to be involved and whose voice/whose story is highlighted, funders who determine which work happens, and algorithms that dictate who will see the end products.

Participants suggested additional ways that video and film are used, including:

  • Social-emotional learning, where video is shown and then discussed to expand on new ideas and habits or to encourage behavior change.
  • Personal transformation through engaging with video.

Becky shared Digital Green’s approach, which is participatory and where community members to use video to help themselves and those around them. The organization supports community members to film videos about their agricultural practices, and these are then taken to nearby communities to share and discuss. (More on Digital Green here). Video doesn’t solve anyone’s development problem all by itself, Becky emphasized. If an agricultural extensionist is no good, having a video as part of their training materials won’t solve that. “If they have a top-down attitude, don’t engage, don’t answer questions, etc., or if people are not open to changing practices, video or no video, it won’t work.”

How can we improve impact measurement?

Questions arose from Salon participants around how to measure impact of film in a project or wider effort. Overall, impact measurement in the world of film for development is weak, noted one discussant, because change takes a long time and it is hard to track. We are often encouraged to focus on the wrong things like “vanity measurements” such as “likes” and “clicks,” but these don’t speak to longer-term and deeper impact of a film and they are often inappropriate in terms of who the audience is for the actual films (E.g., are we interested in impact on the local audience who is being impacted by the problem or the external audience who is being encouraged to care about it?)

Digital Green measures behavior change based on uptake of new agriculture practices. “After the agriculture extension worker shows a video to a group, they collect data on everyone that’s there. They record the questions that people ask, the feedback about why they can’t implement a particular practice, and in that way they know who is interested in trying a new practice.” The organization sets indicators for implementing the practice. “The extension worker returns to the community to see if the family has implemented a, b, c and if not, we try to find out why. So we have iterative improvement based on feedback from the video.” The organization does post their videos on YouTube but doesn’t know if the content there is having an impact. “We don’t even try to follow it up as we feel online video is much less relevant to our audience.” An organization that is working with social-emotional learning suggested that RCTs could be done to measure which videos are more effective. Others who work on a more individual or artistic level said that the immediate feedback and reactions from viewers were a way to gauge impact.

Donors often have different understandings of useful metrics. “What is a valuable metric? How can we gather it? How much do you want us to spend gathering it?” commented one person. Larger, longer-term partners who are not one-off donors will have a better sense of how to measure impact in reasonable ways. One person who formerly worked at a large public television station noted that it was common to have long conversation about measurement, goals, and aligning to the mission. “But we didn’t go by numbers, we focused on qualitative measurement.” She highlighted the importance of having these conversations with donors and asking them “why are you partnering with us?” Being able to say no to donors is important, she said. “If you are not sharing goals and objectives you shouldn’t be working together. Is gathering these stories a benefit to the community ? If you can’t communicate your actual intent, it’s very complicated.”

The goal of participatory video is less about engaging external (international) audiences or branding and advocacy. Rather it focuses on building skills and capacities through the process of video making. Here, the impact measurement is more related to individual, and often self-reported, skills such as confidence, finding your voice, public speaking, teamwork, leadership skills, critical thinking and media literacy. The quality of video production in these cases may be low, and videos unsuitable for widespread circulation, however the process and product can be catalysts for local-level change and locally-led advocacy on themes and topics that are important to the video-makers.

Participatory video suffers from low funding levels because it doesn’t reach the kind of scale that is desired by funders, though it can often contribute to deep, personal and community-level change. Some felt that even if community-created videos were of high production quality and translated to many languages, large-scale distribution is not always feasible because they are developed in and speak to/for hyper-local contexts, thus their relevance can be limited to smaller geographic areas. Expectation management with donors can go a long way towards shifting perspectives and understanding of what constitutes “impact.”

Should we re-think compensation?

Ambika noted that there are often challenges related to incentives and compensation when filming with communities for organizational purposes (such as branding or fundraising). Organizations are usually willing to pay people for their time in places such New York City and less inclined to do so when working with a rural community that is perceived to benefit from an organization’s services and projects. Perceptions by community members that a filmmaker is financially benefiting from video work can be hard to overcome, and this means that conflict may arise during non-profit filmmaking aimed at fundraising or building a brand. Even when individuals and communities are aware that they will not be compensated directly, there is still often some type of financial expectation, noted one Salon participant, such as the purchase of local goods and products.

Working closely with gatekeepers and community leaders can help to ease these tensions. When filmmaking takes several hours or days, however, participants may be visibly stressed or concerned about household or economic chores that are falling to the side during filming, and this can be challenging to navigate, noted one media professional. Filming in virtual reality can exacerbate this problem, since VR filming is normally over-programmed and repetitive in an effort to appear realistic.

One person suggested a change in how we approach incentives. “We spent about two years in a community filming a documentary about migration. This was part of a longer research project. We were not able to compensate the community, but we were able to invest directly in some of the local businesses and to raise funds for some community projects.” It’s difficult to understand why we would not compensate people for their time and their stories, she said. “This is basically their intellectual property, and we’re stealing it. We need a sector rethink.” Another person agreed, “in the US everyone gets paid and we have rules and standards for how that happens. We should be developing these for our work elsewhere.”

Participatory video tends to have less of a challenge with compensation. “People see the videos, the videos are for their neighbors. They are sharing good agricultural or nutrition approaches with people that they already know. They sometimes love being in the videos and that is partly its own reward. Helping people around them is also an incentive,” said one person.

There were several other rabbit holes to explore in relation to film and development, so look for more Salons in 2018!

To close out the year right, join us for ICT4Drinks on December 14th at Flatiron Hall from 7-9pm. If you’re signed up for Technology Salon emails, you’ll find the invitation in your inbox!

Salons run under Chatham House Rule so no attribution has been made in this post. If you’d like to attend a future Salon discussion, join the list at Technology Salon.

 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

This is a guest post by Bertil van Vugt, who works as the content director at Africa Interactive.  Bertil and I met for the first time about a year ago at a tweet up in Amsterdam, though I had known about Africa Interactive’s fantastic work with African media professionals for much longer. I was thrilled to hear from Bertil last week that they’ve been working with Plan in West Africa, and have made 4 videos about the Girls Making Media project that I had written about earlier this month. 

Girls Making Media in Ghana

Men dominate the African media sector. Looking at our own database of over 2000 media-professionals in 50 African countries we see predominantly males. Fortunately we are also working with many talented women throughout the continent. When we were asked to produce videos and case studies about Plan’s Girls Making Media Project we got really exited about the initiative that is preparing young girls for a career in the media sector.

I work for Africa Interactive, a social venture delivering media and communication services with offices in Amsterdam, Nairobi and Accra. As I mentioned earlier we are working with local reporters, camera-crews and photographers throughout Africa to document activities of NGOs, multinationals and governments. While these organizations previously worked with Western crews who travelled to Africa, we work with African media-professionals and guarantee the quality of the productions.

Local film-crews

There are many advantages of working with local crews. They know their way around; they speak the languages and understand the culture since it is theirs. These people can be fixer, translator and journalist at the same time. And not unimportant: the costs are lower compared to flying people in. For this Plan assignment we worked with experienced crews (male AND female) in Lomé (Togo), Bomi (Liberia), Makeni (Sierra Leone) and Sogakope (Ghana). Our, by the way female, employees in Accra and Nairobi did the video editing and we finalized the videos in our Amsterdam office.

GMM

The Girls Making Media project’s goal is to contribute to the elimination of gender discrimination and benefits at least 140 adolescent girls and 30 adult journalists in the most marginalized areas in each country. With this project, girls and adult journalists are trained on various topics aiming at increasing their capacity to produce quality information concerning girls’ rights. It is also empowering girls to advocate on issues concerning their well-being.

In the four videos we focus on the three-year program (which started one year ago) and show the development, achievements and challenges so far. We hear about the effect the project has on the girls and their communities. Also, the girls explain how they see themselves after learning media skills and talking about gender related issues on the radio and TV.

Liberia

Ghana

Sierra Leone

Togo

Girls interact with journalists

Together with the Plan West Africa office in Ouagadougou we developed the idea that the video-shoot should also be an opportunity for the girls to interact with our crews and learn from them. During the filming days there was room for questions and sharing of experiences. We received positive feedback from the crews and the Plan offices about the cooperation with the girls. I would like to use this space to thank the camera-crews who did a great job to create the videos:  Comfort + Yudawhere (Liberia), Wotay + Idriss (Sierra Leone), Paul + Gary (Ghana) and Rodrique + Anselme (Togo).

Let me conclude by saying that I hope to welcome the girls to our network after they have finalized the GMM project!

If you are looking for any content on your activities in Africa, just contact me via e-mail: bertil [at] africanews.com or Twitter: @brutuz.

Read Full Post »

The groups all worked again today finishing things up. The IT person from the Program Unit office is still here trying to resolve the issues with the computers. He fixed the USB port on the one and is going to purchase a CD player for each computer so that the software can be installed.

The Program Support manager visited today with the advocacy coordinator from Plan Canada. It’s very clear that there will be good follow up from the Rwanda office on everything coming out of the project. The Program manager was quite keen on the ideas that the kids and partners have come up with and commited to building Plan’s interventions around the topics/issues coming out from the kids’ work.

We worked until 3 and then I said goodbye to the kids. They gave me some really sweet drawings and letters to take home with me. Chrystel and I stayed at the hotel until around 6:30 and then we drove back to Kigali where I checked back into the Ninzi Hill Hotel and took my first hot shower with running water in the past 2 weeks – that sure felt good!

I got online to check in on my other life, and almost immediately Julie Skyped in and said that she was having trouble getting passports and visas sorted out for Noe (her small son who was supposed to come with her for the last week of training). It sounded like a big hassle for her to try to sort it out, so we agreed that she would not come. I felt that the team was really on track anyway, and didn’t require us anymore. I think the important thing is the first week or 2 and by then things just roll along. Julie said the same thing happened with the Senegal training, so we agreed she’d cancel her trip. Though she was disappointed, I think it will be OK.

Around 10:30 Jacques and Olivier came to pick me up to go hear some live reggae at the KBC (Kigali Business Club). Really nice place and good music. We stayed pretty late and then walked back to the hotel and I crashed. Photo: Kigali by night.

Olivier, Joseph and Tony came in the morning to say goodbye. Chrystel took me to the airport around 2:30, (stopping on the way to pick up some Waragi to take home as a souvenir)!

My flights home were uneventful. I think I slept for about 16 hours! Picked up some coffee in Ethiopia airport and made it home to my house around noon on Sunday. I’m still exhausted, and with such lovely memories of the trip. One of my favorites of all time….

And now back to the grind!

Read Full Post »

The groups continued working today on their different ‘products’. Chaka’s group will be ready with the community map by Wednesday. I spent a little time going over the maps that other groups had done in the smaller group so that the kids could see more how the computer works and what the virtual visit set up is and how the map will play into it. They are doing something more symbolic with the map that looks really interesting. They will make representations of the 3 kinds of lifestyle found in the district – the most ‘pure’, the medium developed, and the city type life. These will be combined into one map and they’ll also add drawings of the different things they saw out when they were surveying to prepare to draw the map. Originally we had worried about letting the kids join other groups but now it doesn’t seem to be much of a problem. Each group has solidified and they all feel proud to be in the group they are in. Photo: the rainstorm flooded my hotel room!

The theater group practiced with a dress rehearsal and we planned to film it but there was a huge rainstorm in the afternoon and we couldn’t go out to film. The video guys continued editing and filming, but we are still having some computer issues and the kids were not able to learn much editing today.

Tomorrow we will go over the ‘list’ of things that we need to accomplish by the end of the training to see where we are and so that next week Julie can ensure that we produce everything. This includes:

1 community map
15 community videos
5 drama videos
30 drawings/paintings
3 sets of 12 photos each by theme
3-5 music recordings/music videos of the kids singing
1 ‘making of’ video
25 ‘making of’ photos
5 testimonials for Nokia (30 seconds each)
1 follow up plan which can then be turned into a project to be funded by the website donations (i.e., the training center?)
Media coverage (local media when we have the parents/community presentation, and national media coverage plan via television, print and film festivals, etc.)
Report
Face photos/names/ages of all participants and partners/facilitators

Tomorrow is my last day here…. Photo with Chrystel, the Rwanda project coordinator.

We set up the sound system in the hotel courtyard and had a big farewell party in the evening. Photo: Bernard and Chaka setting up the music for the evening.
People went around and said good things to each other about how great it was to work together, etc. It was a really nice time. I’m really sad to leave! Photo: Joseph, my faithful friend and translator, and Patrick saying lovely things about me….

Read Full Post »

We arrived a bit late this morning. We brought over the desktops and set them up in the training center so that they could start editing today. The Country Director (CD) arrived around 10 and visited each one of the groups and talked to each of the partners. He seems quite happy with the project and open to the necessary follow up with the kids and through the partners. I was really happy about that. We relaxed most of the rest of the morning and after lunch I worked on some reporting. The arts group went back out to do some more community surveying. Photo: Mamadou Kante, the Plan Rwanda Country Director.

The main issue today is that the electricity was coming on and off which made it hard to work. The country office will send us a UPS that we’d accidentally left there for each computer for tomorrow morning. Photo: Saide, Jacques, Lauben and Bernard.

The monitoring and evaluation coordinator visited along with the CD and had a chance to talk with the different partners about sustainability of the project and follow up. Some good ideas came out such as how to respond to the kids requests for forming an association and how to offer them other kinds of training or good follow up and more depth on the skills they are learning in this workshop. One idea that is coming up from different sides is that it could be possible to open some kind of training center in the area, managed by partner organizations, to house the equipment and conduct further training in the 3 areas plus areas that the youth identify during follow up planning. Photo: the theater group getting ready show their work to the CD.

It was quite a good day and I feel like the follow up with all the partners will really happen.

At the debrief, people were happy with the results of the day. Amina said that the theater group had stepped it up somehow and all the issues with the play were resolved.

Read Full Post »

Today we had transportation so I went with the 2 video groups to film in the community. Olivier and Bernard went with one group to film one topic the kids had that was ‘we are developing and progressing, so they filmed different things that they see as progress. I went with Jacques and his group, along with Joseph for translation. We drove quite a long way with 21 people in the minivan. Bernard showed me the half-hour t.v. show that he does every Friday called “B-Kool” which covers fashion, music videos, and what’s cool. He showed me also some of the latest videos he’s made, one included Chaka as an angry father who beats up a guy for going out with his daughter. Photo: the video group for today.

Our group got out first and we filmed the dam which irrigates the rice paddies, and then Joseph and I stayed near the dam caretaker’s house while the others went off to film a couple other stories, like rice growing and fishing. We ended up waiting for over 2 hours for them to come back. But mainly Jacques figured that if I went, we’d get the crowd following me shouting muzungo again. I think this time it wouldn’t have happened and I would have liked to have gone, but it was also nice to stay up and sit outside for a few hours enjoying the fields, weather and sunshine. Around 12 the caretaker came out with a bowl of amazing food – cooked green bananas, beans, carrots, a small squash type vegetable all in a mild chili sauce. So delicious. Joseph and I shared it with the 2 girls who had stayed back with us. Photo: filming a rice grower in the storage shed.

Finally the group came back and reported on what they’d been filming, and that they had lots of great footage, with just one problem – that they’d dropped the camera in the water…. But Jacques figured it would be OK (and it was). We sat for another hour or so waiting for the car to pick us up and I learned a whole bunch of phrases in Kinyarwandan which was cool. Photo: fisherboy.

In the afternoon we mainly sat around while the groups worked. I met with Patrick from PAJER to learn more about what they are doing, and to talk about some things we could work on together and possibilities I had thought of for places/people I could connect him with, including possible ideas for collaboration with Plan. We broke at 4, took naps and met again from 7-9.30 to plan for tomorrow.

We are still adapting the schedules for the different groups. Amina still felt her group wasn’t progressing as she had imagined, so different people were giving her advice. We reminded her that the goal is not having perfect theater students, but using theater to support expression, and that if there was something that the students were able to do that she should focus on building that up, not on making a long play.

Chaka explained how he’s making the map. It will be stylized showing the 3 different zones of Kiziguro – the very rural/not developed areas, the semi-developed areas and the town area. They are also working on drawing pictures of the things they have seen when they are out surveying for the map.

Tomorrow the country director is coming to visit around 11. We decided to have the video group focus on some photographing around the training center, the arts and theater groups would continue working. In the afternoon we’d have a debrief of all groups and the kids would move into new groups for Thursday.

Read Full Post »

We decided yesterday to only take what we need to the training center instead of lugging tons of stuff over there every morning. The kids were in groups again today, and in the morning they worked out a plan for what they were going to film and then around 11.30 we started out. I went with Jacques and about 7 kids. We ended up walking to Lake Muhazi (where we’d spent the weekend) but reaching it from a different side, which took about an hour, and taking pictures along the way. The walk was along a very clean and well kept up dirt road with squarish adobe houses along the way. It was a bit uncomfortable in a few places as we gathered quite the posse of kids following us saying muzungo (white person) the whole way. It was pretty alright until we got to the primary school, which unfortunately was on break time, so then they followed us (well, me) for a couple miles saying muzungo, muzungo. A couple adults came out and took a picture of me which felt strange but I readily accept – it’s a 2-way street. Photo: kids in the trees next to Lake Muhazi, taken by the video trainees.

At the lake the kids did an interview of one of the girls in the training explaining how they use the water from the lake for everything. You see lots of guys on bicycles with yellow jerry cans everywhere bringing water for cooking and washing. And you understand why not much washing is really done since the water is so scarce and from so far away.

After the interview, we sat awhile waiting for someone to come to collect water so we could film it. It took awhile because it started raining (pretty gently) and I guess it wasn’t really water gathering time. Some cows came along so they interviewed the herders. Then a boat came across the water from the other side so they filmed that and interviewed the water taxi people, and people riding on the boat. Then finally some of the school kids who´d been trailing me came back with their jerry cans and went swimming and got some water, so the kids filmed that and we started the walk back. Photo: kids collecting water. Taken by the video trainees.

We came upon a wedding so we stopped and took some pictures and film of that too. Then Jacques said we should catch bikes back to the training center so we wouldn’t have to walk – it was already 2.00 and we’d missed 1.00 lunch. It took awhile to find 10 bike driver guys, and they all wanted to carry the muzungo. We finally had all 10, but then they upped the price, so Jacques decided we’d walk. And so we started walking. After about 10 minutes of the guys on the bikes following us as we walked they agreed to down the price to 200 Rwandan francs (like 50 cents in US dollars) each. They still all wanted to carry the muzungo, and finally Jacques told them ‘great, you can carry her, but she’s not paying’. He told me not to go with this one guy who’d been a bit obnoxious and found another one for me to go with. And we started out, 10 people on the back seat of 10 bikes with our drivers carrying us along the red dirt road, over potholes and up and down hills. We rode for something like 30 minutes before getting back to the training center. Along the way all I could hear was people shouting out muzungo this and muzungo that to the guy taking me. I could only imagine what they were saying. It was nice though despite being a main attraction. The breeze, the quiet little town with plantains and mango trees on all sides. I like this place. Photo: me on a bike!

We got back and they still had some lunch for us – yay! The 2nd film group got back about 10 minutes after we did, and the first thing Olivier said was that if I’d seen where they went today, I’d ask him to take me on a picnic there. They went to see the palace of the traditional king from the area. They got a tour of the place and interviewed him, etc. I can’t wait to see the footage. He and Bernard were quite impressed. They got about 4 stories out of it they said. So together with the water story, potential wedding (if they got good footage), their 4 stories, and the films (to be taken later) of Amina’s theater group, we’re well on our way. We’ll film again tomorrow morning and then start editing in the afternoon I think.

We went straight back to the hotel at 4 as everyone was tired. We met at 7 to debrief and plan for tomorrow. Some of the issues that came up were related to logistics – we walked for an hour to get to the place to take the video, and hopefully tomorrow there will be transportation…. The drama group isn’t progressing as quickly as Amina would hope because some of them have poor reading skills and they can’t remember lines. We are starting to pull together the report of what we’ve done up to now, and what we’re planning to do for the rest of the time to ensure that we meet all the goals.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »