Citizen Journalism

Empowering Marginalized Communities through Media DOCUMENTING HUMAN RIGHTS THROUGH EYEWITNESS REPORTS

The ability of everyday citizens to document their communities has presented new possibilities and challenges for human rights documentation and advocacy. Since 2011 I have worked to empower traditional human rights advocates as well as citizens and activists around the world to use citizen journalism and eyewitness media to make an impact. I have led trainings, developed guidance, and with the human rights organization, WITNESS, led a pioneering program curating eyewitness videos from around the world to not only expose under-reported stories of injustice, but to understand how average citizens and the technology they use can contribute to more effective documentation of human rights.


El Tímpano: Collaborative, Local, Spanish-language Reporting

In collaboration with the Listening Post Collective of Internews, I led an assessment of the information needs of Oakland's Latino immigrants. I met with leaders of two-dozen community organizations, facilitated listening sessions with engaged residents, and surveyed dozens of Latino immigrants to understand how they access news and information and engage in civic conversations, and identify gaps and opportunities. Click here to view our report, "Más Información: An Information Needs Assessment of Latino Immigrants in Oakland California." Learn more at  

Watching Western Sahara

Watching Western Sahara is a platform for curated and contextualized eyewitness footage from Western Sahara, developed as a collaboration between the WITNESS Media Lab and the FiSahara Film Festival in early 2016. The project aims to bridge the gap between international human rights monitors and at-risk Sahrawi journalists and human rights defenders filming within Western Sahara, a territory that has been occupied by Morocco since 1975. Due to Morocco's restrictions on local media and regular denial of entry to foreign correspondents and international advocates, online videos by Sahrawis offer rare documentation for the outside world to see.  

Ethical Guidelines for Using Eyewitness video in Human Rights Reporting and Advocacy

I served as lead author of this peer-reviewed WITNESS resourcethe first comprehensive guidelines addressing the ethical considerations of using eyewitness footage of human rights abuse. (PDF link)

Human Rights Channel

The twice Webby-nominated initiative was the first YouTube video channel dedicated to curating eyewitness footage of human rights abuses from around the world. As Program Manager, I also analyzed the evolving role that eyewitness video played in exposing injustice, and developed guidelines for media activists, journalists, and human rights professionals on filming and using eyewitness footage safely and effectively.


Presentations on panels and conferences on citizen reporting and human rights:

Community-Driven Design: Using the tools of organizing & media development to assess a community's information needs - People Powered Publishing conference, November 2017

Best Practices for Using Eyewitness Footage - webinar for Poynter's News University, March 2016

Designing Ethics in the Digital Age - Online News Association, November 2015

State of Rights: Citizen Witnesses Documenting Human Rights - US Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, March 2015

Media Policy and Participatory Journalism: Teaching, Engaging and Protecting Acts of Journalism - Association for Educators in Journalism and Mass Communication Conference, August 2014

Hacking Attention: Media, Technology and Crisis - SXSW Interactive, March 2014         

Collaborative Images: New Models of Authorship and Aggregation - Magnum Foundation's "Photography Expanded," March 2014

Media, Technology and Crisis - National Conference for Media Reform, April 2013




A selection of articles on citizen journalism and human rights reporting:

Tools and Strategies to Verify Online Videos from Western Sahara - WITNESS blog, July 2016  

Verification is a Spectrum (Lessons Learned Curating Human Rights Video on YouTube)            - MediaShift, July 8, 2015

Human Rights Channel's 2014 Year in Review - WITNESS, December 10, 2014

Assessing and Minimizing Risks When Using UGC - Verification Handbook, 2014

Will the Syrian Hero Boy Make Us Question Everything We See? (and why don’t we do that already?) - WITNESS blog, November 20, 2014

Navigating the Ethics of Citizen Video: The Case of a Sexual Assault in Egypt - Arab Media & Society, Fall 2014

5 Innovative Projects Show the Power of Citizen Collaboration - PBS MediaShift, August 5 2014

When YouTube Videos Expose Crimes that go Unpunished - PBS MediaShift, February 24, 2014

Video Exposes Police Abuse in Venezuela (or is it Mexico? or Colombia?) - WITNESS blog, February 25, 2014

Is it Authentic? When Citizens and Soldiers Document War - PBS MediaShift, November 20, 2012