I'm honored to have been nominated as a staff representative, and if elected I will do my best to make sure that the voices of the community, especially the staff, are well represented at the Board level. We have a great set of deserving candidates both for staff representation and volunteer representation and I am excited by the campaign messages by the candidates so far. It is no surprise that so many of us care deeply about Global Voices and take steps so that it continues to grow and make impacts.
Me & Global Voices:
I am a Bangladeshi blogger and researcher. My past experiences include being a consultant for UNDP, working for a multinational market research company and editorship in AJ+ and Rising Voices. In the past decade, I have lived in a number of countries and traveled to over 25 countries. I speak three languages fluently and have a working knowledge of three more.
My journey with Global Voices started as a volunteer author in 2005 and since then I have seen the community evolve to the current state. In 2007 I initiated the Global Voices Bangla Lingua community and became the editor. In 2008 I became a staff member as regional editor for South Asia. I participated in all the Global Voices summits since 2006 and have met so many of you in person. Global Voices has become a family for me and I've had the opportunity to experience GV through each of these roles, from volunteer to a staff member. I have a good understanding of how GV operates and have good relation with many of the board members and editors, as well as team members. I regularly engage and contribute to informal conversations on Global Voices Slack, WhatsApp and Instagram channels. I also maintain and operate the social media accounts of the Global Voices South Asia and Global Voices Bangla Lingua sites.
The South Asia region is an important region with approximately one-fourth of the World’s population. The different politics, culture, language and religion makes it hard complex for the newsroom to cover the region. My advantage is that from the early days of blogging I have watched the blog networks grow in this region and I am connected with the network of bloggers in many countries in this region.
I also lead a great Lingua team which has published more than 7500 posts over the years and the site has a steady flow of posts each month.
This is how my newsrooms operate – we do not set agenda vertically, but the volunteer authors or translators can bring up suggestions and steer Global Voices to a direction. In Global Voices management, the community also plays an important role in decision making and defining what we want GV to be. The role of the representatives, both staff and volunteer are important as they act as a bridge between the decision makers (the board) and the community – communicating the needs, ideas, and concerns from the community.
I think the key challenge of maintaining and keeping the ever-growing community engaging engaged is keeping it well-integrated via communication. The communication is essential between editors of different regions and between the volunteer team members. Over the years we have experimented with different platforms, from Google groups to internal blogs, WhatsApp group or Slack. And different teams had the liberty to chose what works best for them and nothing is set in stone.
Also, I think we should increase our interpersonal relations and the best of it is enhanced over a cup of coffee. When I go to a new city, I wish to meet a Global Voices contributor, more than a relative. That’s how you feel that you belong to a family.
I know the main challenges of the staff members, mainly the editors. The Global Voices community is very fluid. There are newcomers and at the same time, there are many who become inactive all the time. I think as a staff member we should at first respect the volunteer contribution and be sensitive with communication with them. We should be acknowledging the fact that many team members are older than us and possess more experience in journalism and the industry and in fact we can learn from them. Editing is always a two-way process and I admire how our sub-editors do make a good example of how this should be done.
There is also another challenge – how to keep the team motivated at all times. They should be informed about the democracy and transparency of Global Voices and that they have a role in shaping Global Voices’ future. And I think the main characteristics of many of our contributors is activism. Volunteer authors do not simply contribute because they have to, but because maybe they feel they need to use the Global Voices platform to connect to a wider audience. This is a critical time for the world and it needs Global Voices for more than ever. The volunteers can take this opportunity to advance their causes in Global Voices style.
GV In The Future
I would like to help close the gap of expectations vs. outcome all around by better understanding of the reality. Here are some of my thoughts and ideas as GV moves towards the future:
1. I think the Global Voices contents think the Global Voices contents can be marketed to a wider audience in many local languages. Our main English and Lingua contents can be shared widely by making more local partnerships and we may need a dedicated team of content marketers.
2. We should be available to hear concerns from the community and receive ideas at any time. There have been experiments like Global Voices after-hours chat, a job which the staff and volunteer reps can do wholeheartedly. I also would like to propose a grievance mailbox with the option for anonymous submission to make comments and suggestions/grievances heard to the persons who can step in and resolve.
3. Although our coverages are excellent, we miss many stories that can impact countries globally because of lack of volunteers willing to do it. Perhaps we can conduct a monthly audit of stories missed/ stories covered and brainstorm on how this leakage can be plugged and we can publish more stories.
4. Thanks to Sahar and Lauren we now have comprehensive guides for Global Voices authors. However, some have given feedback that they have not read all of it and need an interpretation of some of the sections. I will work with others to arrange consultations on these techniques and guides for volunteers across the teams.
I would request you to vote for me because I have enough time to give to Global Voices. For the past decade, I have shaped my life around it and I am more comfortable working remotely across different time zones and I am always connected via different social media. So I will be available to the staff members, the community and the board members at all times, considering the time differences.
I believe Global Voices is a wonderful platform steered by some extraordinary people from all over the world and it has all the power to sustain and thrive more and reach to more people. I wish my co-candidates the best of luck. Please let me know via this comment section or my Twitter (@rezwan) if you have any question. Happy Voting!