Community Council update

Celebrating the Global Voices 2019 Asia Pacific Summit. Photo: Subhashish Panigrahi, used with permission

Celebrating the Global Voices 2019 Asia Pacific Summit. Photo: Subhashish Panigrahi, used with permission.

Some six months has gone by since we concluded the Council, and we're overdue for an update!

It's been an extremely busy few months, and we wanted to share the key highlights – what we've been working on, what changes we've made, and what changes we're planning.

As a reminder, the results of the Community Council discussions gave us a roadmap to interpret and plan the next steps for Global Voices. Please review them here.

Council recommendation: We saw, across many poll results, a strong preference for more regional and decentralized leadership, development of regionally focused projects, and a focus on specific topics and themes.

What we’ve done so far: We raised funds for and held the Asia Pacific Regional Summit in Taipei in May/June of 2019. This regional summit was conceived and primarily led by members of our Asia regional teams, including editors Oiwan Lam, Mong Palatino, and Rezwan; long-time super-volunteer I-Fan Lin from Taiwan, many Lingua editors, and especially Fang-Ling Hsieh and Conny Chang from Taiwan, and many others. GVers from across different sections collaborated to make the event a great success, with more than 40 Global Voices contributors and editors coming to Taipei, and some 100 people attending the public day meeting. Other teams are beginning to talk about developing regional summits (feel free to reach out to Ivan/Georgia if you’re interested in a summit in your region!).

Council recommendation: We saw preferences for a narrowing of focus on some topics, creation of alternative models for participation, more funded leadership opportunities, more professionalism, and project funding for editorial activities.

What we’ve done so far:

We hired a new managing editor, Filip Noubel, did a deep dive into community functions and roles, and are in the process of launching a newsroom reorganization in consultation with Newsroom teams that focuses on creating new ways for people to participate, and clarifies the roles of contributors and staff. We’ll be sharing more about this plan within the next few weeks.

We designed and tested a model for topic focus to drive a more intentional approach to our coverage, and have written several funding proposals to support topical work. Those include:

  • The Sub-Saharan Africa editorial team and Advox saw an opportunity to develop, write and pitch a proposal to fund a series of stories about digital rights restrictions and shutdowns in sub-Saharan Africa. If other teams are interested in a similar approach, contact Filip/Ivan/Georgia.
  • We funded the UPROAR project, with support from the Small Media Foundation, working together with Advox to report on topics related to a campaign that is urging governments to address digital rights challenges at the Universal Periodic Review.
  • Our Central Asian and East Asian teams collaborated to write a series of stories (123) and create a proposal on coverage of Chinese re-education camps in Xinjiang. We have developed a concept note for ongoing coverage and are looking for relevant funders.
  • We wrote a concept note to create an “observatory” approach within the newsroom, which would focus on organizing tips, leads, story topics, and other related information about subtext and analysis before stories are written. The Central and Eastern Europe team is helping to develop a pilot.
  • We launched a pilot editorial process for Quick Reads, requiring less intensive editorial intervention for experienced authors writing short posts.

Council recommendation: For organizational structure, we saw the most support for a membership model, as well as support for both more decentralized authority combined with clear authorities at the center.

What we’ve done so far: We designed a model for a permanent Council of members to advise and inform the work of GV. We are aiming to launch the Council in later this year, probably in the 3rd or 4th quarter. We have made a lot of progress with our governance model, and have a draft charter; we just need a review process and time and resources to set it up!

We also joined with other newsrooms exploring different forms of membership models. Ivan participated in online seminars with the Membership Puzzle, a research project out of New York University that studies and seeks to foster the growth of well-designed membership models for media. GV has also joined the Civil network of news organizations, which is a community-owned platform for independent journalism that emphasizes trust through a joint constitution signed by all members.

Council recommendation: On fundraising, we saw a clear preference for a shift in policy to allow us to have more flexibility in funding.

What we’ve done so far:

We drafted a Fundraising Ethics policy that spells out our new approach, focusing on the effects of funder behavior and requirements, rather than placing blanket bans on certain types of funding. We are publishing an advanced draft of that policy on the Community Blog today.

We initiated conversations with several funders we’ve not worked with in the past, such as the Swedish International Development Agency, BBC Media Action, and DFID. We also initiated a new online fundraising team, with Nevin Thompson helping to set strategy, get a handle on our contacts database, and propose approaches. It takes time to build relationships with new funders, or set up online giving campaigns, of course, and so for the moment, our fundraising challenges remain.

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