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Open source meets transparency through Live Blog

Open source meets transparency through Liv
Open source meets transparency through Liv

Right before the winter holidays, we got a small, but valuable gift, when Climate News Mosaic, one of the projects we supported in 2013 by providing Live Blog instances, won the #hostwriterPrize. We wanted to share their story with you, so we spoke with Ido Liven about the Climate News Mosaic project and their success. Ido is an independent journalist who writes mostly about environment, climate change and international affairs.

Q. Can you please introduce Climate News Mosaic?

A. Climate News Mosaic is a network of environmental journalists, who are based on five continents – from Canada to the Philippines and from Germany to Brazil, while producing radio, video and textual stories in about ten different languages and promoting the idea of collaborative journalism. We’re especially interested in the topics of climate change and climate negotiations. Our main project so far was when we covered the United Nations Climate Change Conference held in Warsaw, Poland in November 2013.

Q. How exactly did your media coverage work?

A. The coverage consisted of two parts. Each of us was doing our own reporting for the media outlets we worked with. Instead of media sending their own correspondents to the venue, we wanted to shift the focus from the event and the venue itself to other countries to get some additional international perspective to illustrate that the decisions that were made at the conference influenced the real lives of real people.

There were three members in Warsaw who had their user accounts on Live Blog and were focused on the moderation of the live blog effort. Most of the group was in various locations around the world such as in Brazil, Italy, Germany, the Philippines and the USA, contributing to the content remotely. We posted anything from a quote, interview, photos, video or audio. We also included related tweets.

This was a really huge event with a lot of participants, governmental, non-governmental, intergovernmental personnel. All of them were using this annual conference to release a lot of new data, so we were also linking to the documents we thought were interesting. We really had everything! You can see the archive here.

The second part of the media coverage consisted of redistribution of the reporting. The conference lasted 12 days and we produced a live blog for each of the days. We offered media all around the world the option to use our live blogs online free of charge, which meant that every day they would get a piece of code to be embedded in their websites while the content was provided to them under the Creative Commons license. The live blogs were hosted on nine various news websites, such as the international news agency IPS, La Stampa or RTCC.

Q. You won the #hostwriterPrize. Can you tell us more about hostwriter organization and the prize itself?

A. hostwriter is a non profit project which aims to foster collaborative journalism. They do so by providing a platform where colleagues from all over the world can connect. By joining hostwriter, one can search for and find a partner for research, collaborate on a story or even find accommodations. They awarded this prize for the first time last year. There were five finalists of the prize and we ended up taking first place, which brought us 5,000 EUR. We are very humbled and excited about receiving it. I would like to stress here that all our contributors are working with us on volunteer basis and it took a lot of time to prepare the event. It proves to us that doing what we are doing is possible and makes our belief in it stronger. The monetary prize already is boosting our efforts in continuing with our activities and going beyond the pilot stage.

Q. How did you learn about Live Blog?

A. We had very clear idea of having a live blog as an ideal format. Initially, we engaged in a lot of heavy research on various platforms and tools for live blogging. At one point, someone pointed out that Sourcefabric was developing a tool that we could use for live blogging, so we got in touch with the head of business, Sebastian Horn. Live Blog is open source, which we liked for a number of reasons and is something we couldn’t find anywhere else. We liked the idea of having access to the code to make adjustments - even though we just needed to correct some small details in the end. From a philosophical aspect of our project, the fact that the tool is open source fits in perfectly with our idea of democratization and transparency.     

Q. What are the future plans for Climate News Mosaic?

A. The next climate conference is happening in December this year in Paris, France. It’s much anticipated and will be on a similar scale to Summit in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2009. This is going to be a big international event and we are focusing our efforts to do another live blog. After our experience in Warsaw, the concept itself seems to be feasible and we want to realize something similar.

We would like to wish Climate News Mosaic a lot of success in their ongoing activities and with the next climate conference coverage!