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RFE/RL at RightsCon 2021: Banned from in-country reporting? Bring the audience into the newsroom.

WASHINGTON -- One of RFE/RL’s core strengths has long been a vast network of local journalists with deep local expertise and contacts, reporting on the scene for people in their communities – as well as uplifting local issues to wider audiences of RFE/RL’s regional reporting network.

In recent years, repressive governments have increasingly sought to restrict local access in an effort to clamp down on freedom of the press. RFE/RL has, in turn, responded by reviewing editorial processes and bringing audiences closer to our journalism: namely, by making their contributions an integral part of it.

We will discuss how we did it – as well as learn how other newsrooms are adapting to the same situation – at RightsCon 2021, the world's premier gathering of civil rights advocates, by hosting a Strategy Session on bringing the audience into the newsroom. Alongside that, we will present a case study of a Current Time documentary on protests in Belarus that is entirely based on videos sent to us from Belarus (or “user-generated content”). The trailer to the film can be watched here.

This session will be a collaborative one in which we hope to have an engaging discussion and develop forward strategies for new ways to integrate audiences in local reporting.

The session, Banned from in-country reporting? Bring the audience into the newsroom, will take place on June 11 at 9:45am EDT. (*note: link will only work for registered participants of RightsCon 2021)

RightsCon will feature a rich collection of panels about journalism and press freedom in addition to other topics. We would be remiss to not mention some other journalists doing great sessions at the conference. Here is a just a small selection:

  • Autocratic copycats? Russia and Turkey stifle social media (Jun. 10, 2021 | 7:15am - 8:15am EDT), Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA); Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF)