GVO’s coverage of South Ossetia

I periodically gripe that mainstream newspapers don’t pay much attention to Global Voices until a country we cover makes it onto the world’s news agenda – basically, we seem to be much more widely used as a source for alternate voices on established stories than as a source for new, untold stories. That’s likely a function of how difficult it is to inject stories into a global news agenda, and a reflection on some of our shortcomings – we need to do a better job of packaging untold stories in ways that make it possible for mainstream media to explore them and amplify them.

That said, I’m very proud of the way Solana Larsen and Georgia Popplewell have introduced special coverage pages to Global Voices, providing a home for blogposts, translations and summaries around breaking news events.

The page maintained for the current South Ossetia crisis is a good example of what we’re trying to do with this coverage – provide sufficient background to understand the situation and link to dicussions and conversations taking place on other blogs. This often requires massive translation efforts – Veronica Khokhlova – who’s technically on vacation at a “dacha” in
Turkey – has been hard at work mining the Russian-language Live Journal community for reports from people directly impacted by the fighting. This roundup is especially heartbreaking, and gives a sense for how confusing the situation on the ground is for everyone affected by the situation. From the 27-year-old LJ user pepsikolka, an ethnic Russian citizen of Georgia, who lives in the port city of Poti, recently bombed by Russia:

It was quiet during the night, but no one went to bed. There’s no TV, we’re reading the news from our phones. Scary. My friend, a colleague, has been wounded, and there are the dead ones, seven people from the port, they say, and there are also the dead among those mobilized after the bombing. I’ve no reason to lie, and those commenters who have doubts just don’t know anything about me, I am Russian myself, and that’s why I’m writing about facts here, so that you knew, we are alive, but scared. I want peace and this is all.

Onnik Krikorian, our Armenian correspondent, is offering commentary on the situation from around the region, some of which is being reposted on the New York Times’s blog. The hope, of course, is to add more personal perspectives and individual voices to the coverage of the situation, which is rapidly shaping up as a standoff between a resurgent and aggressive Russia and a liberalizing Georgia republic which expected – and has not yet received – diplomatic and military backup from the US and other allies. As one narrative develops about conflict between Putin, Saakashvili and other global leaders, it’s always good to remember that there are thousands of individual narratives, harder to follow, but critically important.

Thanks to everyone at GV who’s working so hard to share this aspect of this fast-moving story.

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One Response to GVO’s coverage of South Ossetia

  1. rachel says:

    well, honestly, your format makes it kinda hard to do that. It blog informed and updated, so a lot of the stories posted arent NEWS so much as commentary on a particular facet of life in __ country. which makes it hard sometimes to check out current events from the global voices site itself, it involves a lot of sorting thru info. Blog writers arent journalists either, so while they might occasionally break a new story, mainstream news with paid journalists are prolly gonna cover the explosions/ crises/ “big news” type stories which make / define headlines.

    also, the blogginess make updates a little haphazard.. for example, your featured story right now in the subsaharan africa region is the recent coup in Mauritania (a place i want/need updates from and have friends there) but the article is now days old w/o new info since the coup was reported!! very frustrating. i had to turn to regular news.

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