Global Ground partners with Civil

Challenging assumptions about international affairs

Today we finally announce the collaboration between The Civil Media Company and Global Ground Media. Civil, a marketplace for sustainable journalism, and Global Ground found each other in their dedication to investigative, local, political and international journalism.

I’ll let Matt Coolidge, Co-founder and Communications Lead at Civil take it from here:

Global Ground – Your Window to the World

It’s not easy to find reliable, on-the-ground international coverage these days — namely because it’s not easy to fund such coverage.

Newspapers around the world, strapped by ever-tightening margins, have largely shuttered their foreign desks over the past two decades. With a few notable exceptions, regional papers with dedicated foreign correspondents around are largely a thing of the past. There are still publications devoted to producing high-quality foreign affairs coverage, but much of it falls into one of two categories: a) short form, driven by breaking news or b) overly academic in tone, and geared to niche audiences.

Global Ground, the latest Newsroom to launch on Civil, is neither of those things.

Its team of embedded journalists, photographers, illustrators and mappers will provide a unique brand of coverage on local and regional issues in Asia, and do so through a global lens. It will unearth important stories that challenge existing assumptions, via deep-dive, investigative pieces on often-overlooked issues with major global ramifications.

It will explore how and why problems are relevant for a wider audience and what readers can do to alleviate an issue, one small step at a time.

Its founder, Anrike Visser, is an investigative journalist based in Southeast Asia. She’s recruited a team with experience spanning three continents, and publications including the BBC, Al Jazeera America, TIME Magazine, The Guardian and The Washington Post — and which also has deep ties with organizations like UNICEF, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

We had a few, specific questions for Anrike about what to expect from Global Ground; here’s a lightly edited transcript of our conversation:

What makes Global Ground unique?

Global Ground will look at local and regional issues in Asia through a global lens. Developments like climate change, radicalization and human rights abuses are not confined to national borders. In many cases, they have highly localized roots, which can quickly and, in many cases, unexpectedly cause global ramifications. Global Ground seeks to tell these stories to an international audience.

Aid, trade, politics and migration have connected the world. We want to deliver a more personalized style of reporting on transnational issues and, when appropriate, offer concrete, actionable steps readers can take in response to a given issue.

We’ll focus on the why as much as the what. There’s still plenty of reporting on major regional events after they transpire, but there’s comparatively little reporting on the underlying causes that fuel larger events.

Will all Global Ground stories be reported on the ground?

Yes, we’ll always go to the people affected by an issue to get their take and to hear the solutions they themselves identify. Talking to politicians and researchers about a problem is important, but this too often results in the affected population’s opinion being excluded from the narrative. At the end of the day, it’s their perspective that matters the most. And it’s the journalist’s job to verify and share the information of the powerful and powerless with the public.

When you look at most international-focused news coverage today, are there major trends that stand out? What’s missing from that equation?

We all know that journalism is in a tough spot at the moment and has been for a while. Foreign correspondents have been among the hardest hit because they are the most expensive. There are so many important stories that aren’t getting the attention they warrant right now. Social, economic and political issues in Asia are getting more severe by the day, and it’s coming at a time when most foreign desks have been shut down.

Wire agencies and freelance correspondents are doing a great job, but some important, in-depth stories are going unreported due to a lack of on-the-ground reporters.

And independent local media is heavily under threat. Just look at what happened with The Phnom Penh Post last week. I wish it were otherwise, but in some cases, foreign correspondents can report stories locals can’t for their own safety.

Global Ground will focus more on analysis, and less on breaking news. We want to help promote a greater understanding of the factors that drive election results or demonstrations, and in turn, allow for more meaningful responses from readers if they feel the need to do so.

What are some initial story topics on your radar?

Broadly speaking, we’ll cover politics, human rights, social and environmental issues — basically any developments in Asia with a global impact.

Specifically, we’ll look at for example:

  • Authoritarian regimes like in Cambodia shutting down opposition parties and independent media.
  • Genocide of unprecedented proportions questioning our once held belief that elections in Myanmar would lead to an unstoppable wave of freedom, equality and democracy.
  • Religious extremists, some straight from the front in Syria, violently taking over a whole city in the Philippines. How do we stop Southeast Asia from turning into the new stronghold of religious extremists?
  • And developing countries resorting to climate engineering because for them it’s too late to debate climate change; it’s here and it’s ugly.

Initially, we’ll focus on Asia because this is where 4 out of the 5 biggest economies of the world are expected to be in the near future. The economic and political power shift from the West to the East is also giving rise to growing social issues intensifying across the continent and we want to bear witness to that.

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