Internews Center for Innovation & Learning

Internews Center for Innovation & Learning
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SMS citizen journalism news service fills information void in areas of environmental exploitation

In West Kalimantan, Indonesia, where oil palm plantations are consuming the lands of indigenous populations without access to media, the Center for Innovation and Learning is working with the regional team to establish a FrontlineSMS citizen journalism news service to improve the flow of information. The contributions from citizen journalists will also be broadcast through television, published on a website and shared via an email newswire with other media organizations.  The project will also trial other technologies for improving the flow of information, including an IVR system and a mesh network. 

The Center is working closely with Harry Surjadi, an independent journalist and Knight International Journalism Fellow who conceptualized the SMS news service based on his knowledge of the region. A provincial television station, RuaiTV, will host and manage the service and be largely responsible for training and liaising with citizen journalists. They will also provide a one hour program to broadcast the citizen journalists multimedia content on its network. 

The project is broken down into six components: citizen journalist and public contributions to the network, the SMS news delivery system, a hyper-local SMS information service in a localized farming community currently in direct dispute with a palm oil company on their land, a roadmap for a sustainable commercial SMS service for indigenous peoples and a small-scale IVR pilot and a mesh network pilot based on the Center's experience with these technologies in our Africa pilots.