As reports of protests and violence in Thailand came streaming in over the past month I wasn’t quite sure where to turn for on-the-ground, local coverage of the conflict. Despite having lived in the country as an expat some years ago, my language is not good enough to delve into Thai-only newspapers like Thai Rath, the Daily News, or Matichon’s Khao Sod.
It’s a common problem: many ex-expats and media hounds thirsty for insider knowledge into a country’s current events feel frustrated when events erupt and they don’t know what to read — or more specifically, what to believe.
Global Voices, a nonprofit organization based in The Netherlands and supported by a handful of marquee foundations and donors, is helping to solve that problem. It is a community of more than 200 bloggers around the world who — with the help of volunteer and part-time authors, editors, and translators — provide reports from areas of the world that may not have accurate or deep representation in Western media sources.
As the Global Voices team explains:
Each day on our web site you’ll find a wealth of articles by our authors and editors, summarizing (and in some cases, translating) what bloggers from their countries and regions are talking about. Because North American and Western European voices and perspectives dominate both the international news media and the global Internet, Global Voices tends not to focus very much on these countries.
You’ll find the blogs we do cover full of local detail you can’t often get elsewhere. Many communicate ideas and information that the mainstream press in their countries don’t (or won’t) cover for various reasons. We aim to bring previously unheard voices into the mainstream media — and one of the ways we do that is by working with you.
Here, for example, is a Global Voices account of the protests in Thailand by Mong Palatino, an active blogger in the Philippines. As he is familiar with local news sources and the history of the conflict, he introduces new sources (e.g., blogger accounts, videos) that I definitely would not have seen otherwise. Frequent updates are available for those who want to follow the story.
But what if you don’t read English? The Project Lingua component of the website ensures that articles on Global Voices are open to non-English speaking bloggers and readers. A group of volunteer translators help translate selected content into 15 other languages.