|One of Radar's citizen reporters in action|
But a group of young journalists in London believes the answer lies in a radically different model to the one typically adopted by traditional news outlets. Instead of sending foreign correspondents to cover important world events, Radar are giving people in local communities the tools to develop their own voice and write their own stories, all for the price of a text message.
The organisation was founded in September 2012 by Libby Powell, an independent journalist and winner of the Guardian’s 2010 International Development Journalism competition. Libby wanted to build a global network of citizen reporters in isolated and excluded communities using the most widely available technology: SMS messaging.
Citizen reporters in remote regions of the third world would send text messages highlighting important issues such as poverty, disability and the effects of conflict. At a central hub in London a team of professional editors would verify them and turn them into articles and blogs to be picked up by the world’s media. After running her idea by a potential backer, Libby secured funding and Radar was born.
|Citizen reporter Elizabeth Katta in Sierra Leona|
“I think if we can be clear that it's about dignity and dialogue, then when others are looking purely into technical solutions, or obsessing over brand new micro-development models, we'll be able to stay true to our core,” he says. “If in five years' time we're the go-to people for genuinely participatory communications, then everyone on the team can be very proud.”