Week 2: Brett Harmon Response to Social Change Websites

Media for social change was what we had to look into this week.  Social change is a difficult thing to achieve, because it takes the changing of a mass group of people to really make something significant happen.  But that does not stop several highly devoted individuals from making the attempt at changing the world.  This week I looked into WITNESS and Engage Media for how they were helping make a change.  With WITNESS they are curators and instructors with videos for social change.  They take the footage shot from all around the world showing human rights violations and bring them into one place to help it rise above the noise of the internet.  But WITNESS does not stop there they have the resources available to them to help those who want to document the crimes that they may see themselves.  Meanwhile Engagemedia is going a collecting the videos and short documentaries from around Asia and the Pacific, showing the life and hardships that are faced there.

There is a story in both of these projects, and that is the overarching want to help people around the world.  However with both sites I find myself watching and reading the material, becoming informed, but no way that I can see on what I can do.  Social change like these two companies are advocating for can only be achieved though action, but nowhere that I can see is there anything to say what I can do.  I watched a series of videos on the Human Rights Channel on agriculture strikes in Columbia.  There were videos of police putting down protests and of other peaceful protests, and of course there was some background on the situation and what led to its escalation, but yet no links or information on what I can do.

The information that we gather is only as good as what the consumer of that information does with it.   Most people will watch a video or read a story becomes informed and move on with their day.  But what about that one person who actually wants to do something?  When you have the space and the resources to give all of the relevant information should someone want to help, we as journalists, the curators of the information, should be able to provide it.  This idea forced me to think though, outside of local incidents within the United States when was the last time I saw information to help refugees in the Sudan?  Or help spay and neuter wild dogs like I saw on Engagemedia?

But I suppose that reason is because of a journalist’s supposed lack of bias.  Look, see; report the facts that are what a journalist should do.  But if you are out there and your whole piece, website, and organization is about making social change then companies like Engagemedia and WITNESS should provide this information.  I think it would make them stronger, and make them help in enacting their social change.

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1 comment to Week 2: Brett Harmon Response to Social Change Websites

  • awoodard@uoregon.edu

    I think you have a good point here: when it comes to social change, production is only as good as the response it provokes from its audience. However, the goal of WITNESS seems fairly targeted in its mission of training potential filmmakers, to help raise awareness (which is a massive goal in and of itself). Do you think organizations like this have a responsibility to facilitate action as well, or is “awareness” a good enough endgoal? My only experience is in Environmental Ed, and here at least in theory there IS a stated responsibility to direct students to action (or else they start feeling apathetic).

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