Last night I was lucky enough to attend the Guardian Witness Awards in Bloomsbury, sponsored by EE (indebted to Jude Habib of sounddelivery for the plus one). These inaugural awards celebrated The Guardian’s reader generated content – and eye-witness images and video – from around the world.
We were treated to a 60 minute whirlwind of deserving winners – wryly delivered by broadcaster, Observer columnist and comedian David Mitchell – in categories including News Contribution of the Year (a startling on-the-scene image of the Woolwich murder), and Best Original Still.
However, a depressing reality for those of us who work in the non-profit sector is that – despite our abundance of access to largely unreported issues – virtually no charities are exploring this free channel for sharing our stories.
Journalists who work on the portal told me that we’re just not contributing at all – and they really want our content!
I would encourage everyone – professional communicator or not – to check it out. It’s entirely free to contribute via The Guardian Witness website or app – which asks for a single photo or 3 minute video of something / anything we think is interesting, important, topical, newsworthy or fits into one of their current discussions (so at the moment they’re running Guardian Witness categories on curry recipes, Mother’s Day, and ‘embarrassing technology mishaps’).
The Guardian Witness team assures me all content gets reviewed and considered for inclusion on the site; and sometimes makes it into bona fide developing stories – including in the print version of The Guardian.
Journalists cannot be everywhere at all times, and I have been at my fair share of conferences and seminars where my non-profit peers bemoan the fact that their issues never get reported.
So how about we take control of our content, and target and share it with journalists who can highlight and amplify it? Smartphones afford us all the immediacy of capturing a moment and sharing it with our friends. We are quick to send that picture of our fish dinner to our pals on Instagram or Facebook – so let’s apply the same principles of capture-and-share with the media, using free tools and platforms such as Guardian Witness, Audioboo, and the BBC.
Who knows, maybe you will provide the impetus for the next big story? At the very least you may be the winner of next years’s Pet of The Year photo with that cute pic of your kitty.