Earlier I wrote about ‘connect technologies’ like Twitter and YouTube, and how they are changing the way the world perceives and acts on conflict. Examples are the so-called Twitter Revolution in Moldova and, more recently, the use of YouTube to get the story out of post-electoral Iran.
The potential of these technologies is not in doubt. The challenge is to harness them to make a difference. This is of particular interest to the WDR team because we are looking at communication in relation to the causes and dynamics of conflict, as well as expectations and legitimacy of institutions after violence.
The peace campaigners and political activists I met at of the London meeting of the Alliance for Youth Movements have built their success on new media but they have never lost sight of these tested principles of political advocacy:
|The best storyteller wins. Photo © Donatella L. Lorch.|
Tell your story: If you want to break through the noise in our cacophonic world, you need to find ways to grab your audience’s attention and make them ‘feel’ your cause. Once a human face, voice and a compelling narrative are in place, people are more likely to engage and take action. Remember, the best storyteller wins
Focus on the long-term. Measure your progress against clear benchmarks. Beware of an over-simplistic drive for the endgame and recognize that the activist’s job is seldom done, even when you think you’ve got there.
Think laterally. The best route is rarely a straight line between two points. Esra’a Al Shafei, who runs the digital network MideastYouth.com, spoke about her fight for the rights of Ba’hais and Kurds as a way of addressing, tangentially, other entrenched forms of injustice in the Middle East and North Africa—including discrimination against women.