Week 2: Mike Plett response to viewings

WITNESS was a bit of a revelation for me, because its mission is strikingly similar to an initiative I have been trying to advance in my role as communications specialist for a public-sector union. Like WITNESS, this initiative is about transforming personal stories into “tools for justice, promoting public engagement and policy change.” My organization wants to combat anti-union, anti-government narratives through the personal stories of its members; however, the members are reluctant to share their stories, and I feel the effort has been less than successful.

But the WITNESS mission is slightly different. Its focus is on empowering people; WITNESS just happens to do this through video. I was impressed by the slickness of its how-to section and training materials. I have to admit I found much that I wanted to “borrow” and use for my work.

My tour of the WITNESS Human Rights Channel left me feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of different causes and injustices it held. The Watching Advocacy playlist seemed to contain more polished videos that encapsulated their issues well – from toxic mercury to the crackdown on protesters in Turkey. The Watching Egypt playlist was a bit difficult to watch, perhaps mostly due to the language barrier. The videos that had synopses were in Arabic, so the lack of context was made the experience a bit surreal. One video left me wondering what it was that I actually saw (it’s the same one Jamie mentioned in her post). Even if I knew Arabic, I suspect the video would still have been a bit of a mystery because it lacked a synopsis.

I felt like a fish out of water on the Engage Media site as well, when the video lacked captions or synopses. So while these video can be powerful, it underscores the need for context.

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2 comments to Week 2: Mike Plett response to viewings

  • awoodard@uoregon.edu

    I guess it’s one of the joys and pitfalls of the Internet that there’s so much out there to explore: there’s a lot of good stuff, but it can be hard to find. Do you find it surprising that you’ve never happened upon the WITNESS site before? Information is only as good as its distribution…any way you can think of that maybe they could expand their audience?

  • oaldakhe@uoregon.edu

    I agree a lot of the videos on EngageMedia were unclear. I think it might be helpful if they give specific guidelines to people on how to submit a clear video by length, subtitle etc.

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