Libby Powell, a former City College Brighton and Hove journalism student who the College named as one of its ‘City Achievers’ at an awards ceremony at the Amex Stadium last month, has founded a ground-breaking new organisation, Radar, which offers training, support and a platform for journalists, citizen reporters and media professionals in the developing world and marginalised communities. Radar made an impact recently during the elections in Sierra Leone, with a group of its newly-trained citizen journalists posting updates by SMS, many of them using basic 'green screen' Nokia mobile phones.
The text reports painted a vivid picture of the election day. For example, the reporters gathered quotes from first time voters, reported on the prioritising of nursing mothers who came to vote and offered insights into the challenges of running elections in a developing country. One text from Freetown said: "no electricity at Femi Turner station, Goderich, polling agents using lamps to count votes." The text reports were sent for the price of a local text (about 1p) and received to a Gmail account in London, from where they were verified, curated and manually posted to Twitter. Through journalism training and using cheap-to-use technology, the enthusiastic reporters, many of whom were in areas of Sierra Leone with no electricity or access to computers, were able to share reports with those online. Radar partnered with Leonard Cheshire Disability to ensure the training was fully inclusive and over half of the trainees had a physical disability which ensured refreshing coverage of the elections from their perspective.
"Libby was always a great ambassador for the college, attending international development conferences throughout Europe and working as a columnist for New Internationalist", said Jan Goodey, Course Leader for Journalism at City College. "What’s she’s been achieving with Radar is quite remarkable and she’s providing a fantastic role model for our current students."
Libby (29), said: "The media is incredibly powerful. As a journalism student, I became aware of just how much the international news we read shapes our opinions of other communities and nations. The great thing is that the way we share and consume news is changing so rapidly, and the rise of digital platforms like Twitter and the spread of mobile phones has opened up new opportunities for people to share stories from their own communities and be heard across the world. Radar hopes to speed up that process by offering simple training and support to reporters who have few resources to hand. This was our first project and we were not sure it would work. But when my phone beeped at 5am on election day with the first text report from Freetown, the excitement was electric. That day alone we received over 130 text reports from across the country and I knew then we were on to something."
About City College Brighton and Hove: Situated in the heart of Brighton and graded ‘Outstanding’ in key areas by Ofsted in its June 2011 report, City College Brighton and Hove is an international centre of vocational excellence and one of the top performing Further Education Colleges in the country. Every year, 2,000 full-time, 7,000 part time, 400 Higher Education and 400 14-16 year old students as well as many international and European students choose City College as their place of further and higher education training. In addition, the College provides training to over 2,000 businesses via its ‘City Business Skills’ department which focuses on employer training needs. Offering over 700 courses from basic level right through to business and postgraduate training, City College is working with its partners to develop the workforce of the future.
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