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Advocacy 2.0 and Rising Voices September 23, 2007

Posted by Joanne KY Teoh in Journalism.

Advocacy is changing in the 21st century. It’s less about speaking on behalf of people and more about helping their voices to be heard, says Ethan Zuckerman, co-founder of Global Voices. The old days of speaking about issues are so over.

There’s another revolution taking place at the same time that the Web is diversifying. Most new users coming online don’t just “consume” content – they create it. They blog. They podcast. They post photos, or videos. Not everyone gets it that the playing field has changed, Zuckerman notes.

Web geezers of the past two decades expected users to use email, then read the Web, then maybe post to discussion groups or join an email list. Nope – the first things users do nowadays is take advantage of the read-write nature of the web. What does this mean for advocacy organizations?

It changes their focus and priorities as people who want voices to be heard. The job of advocacy groups is no longer about representing points of view they think are important. It’s about helping people directly affected by problems and situations to represent themselves.

Smart NGOs are discovering that blogging is a viable solution to a wide variety of information problems. Those who cannot publish through conventional means find they are able to publish online via blogs. The reach is limited, but people who get online find themselves becoming “information brokers” and sharing information.

What then is the role of the editor in mainstream media in the debate about user-generated content and the blogosphere? As I mentioned, to be a facilitator and moderator. It’s about skill set and mindset.

Read Ethan’s post on the issues here.


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