On July 25-26, 2013, the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, the U.S. Department of State’s Office of eDiplomacy and United States Institute of Peace hosted TechCamp NYC: Protection of Journalists in Conflict Zones. Nearly 90 participants from 19 countries came to CUNY Graduate School for Journalism's Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism in New York City for the two-day training event, the 24th international TechCamp and the second in the United States.
As a part of the United States’ presidency of the United Nations Security Council in the month of July, the Council convened a special session on the protection of journalists in armed conflict areas. TechCamp NYC capitalized on this momentum by connecting journalists with technologists, NGOs, and government and UN officials to create tangible solutions to protect journalists working in these environments.
Director of the Office of eDiplomacy Richard Boly kicked off TechCamp NYC by stressing that there are no bystanders at TechCamps – everyone actively participates by sharing expertise and contributing ideas. The two-day event was packed with interactive activities and break-out sessions. The first day included a “speed-geeking” session, where technologists gave five-minute ignite-style presentations and technology tutorials. Participants rotated through 16 different stations such as “Mobile Journalism Story” with Trevor Knoblich of FrontlineSMS, “Crowdsourcing Stories in Real Time Story” with Megan Specia of Storyful, and “Moving Secure Information Across Borders” with Annie Wilkinson of Martus.
During the first day, hands-on training sessions addressed the impact and use of the various technologies. Later that afternoon, the participants discussed the challenges for journalists working in conflict zones and brainstormed viable solutions to protect journalists by incorporating the technologies that were presented earlier that day.
On the second day, teams pitched their ideas to the group and participants self-organized into teams to build out their ideas. The resulting solutions speak to the complexities of working in conflict zones:
• Coopera: MOOC (massive online open course) on security strategies and tools to train journalists and activists.
As Deputy Director of Communications at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations Jon Piechowski said in his keynote speech, “Journalists have an integral role to play in the world, and we need them to be able to do that without having to fear for their lives.” TechCamp NYC is only the beginning of a new partnership between journalists and technologists which hopes to tackle this important challenge. The event was the first step in building a community to help protect journalists around the world, and post-TechCamp meet-ups and reunions are already in the works.
For more information: • Visual story of TechCamp NYC on Storify
• Keep the dialogue going by participating in the TechCamp NYC Wiki
About TechCamp TechCamp is a signature program of Civil Society 2.0, supporting the Department’s initiative to build the digital literacy of civil society organizations around the world. To date, TechCamps have trained more than 1,200 civil society organizations from more than 80 countries. The next TechCamp will take place in Ramallah, West Bank on August 28-29, 2013.
If you are interested in learning more about Civil Society 2.0, TechCamps, or hosting a future TechCamp, please visit www.techcampglobal.org or contact Jamie Findlater at FindlaterJN@state.gov. You can follow TechCamp on Facebook and on Twitter @TechCampGlobal.