Video diaries to be used in Afghanistan

10 Oct

With so much ‘video’ coming from terrorists who know only too well the media would give them airtime, it always made me wonder if there was not third way to counter this.

The first way would be to ignore them or prohibit their rebroadcast, which would be impossible considering the ability to self-broadcast, anyway.

The second way was the pathetic approach taken by the government, post 9-11, which was essentially a PR and advertising approach, creating happy-people video vignettes. Called Shared Values, and headed by much-respected ad veteran Charlotte Beers, the $11 million campaign was a failure, and an embarrassment. The videos were not inherently bad, but they came from the wrong source: The State Department! (Under the banner of an organization called the “”Council of American Muslims for Understanding.”)

Trying to solve “they hate us” with a Madison Avenue push tactic, that pretended to be a grassroots organization? Anyone could have seen why this was so wrong.

Enter the user-generated concept, from the government. Make that the British government. It’s a plan that has not yet been approved, but it involves getting NGO’s to hand out mobile phones to ordinary people in Afghanistan to create video diaries. The idea is to “deny the Taliban of a monopoly on this space” –meaning to counter hate-ridden, user-generated propaganda videos with other stories from the country. Given that this borders on citizen journalism, it has a better chance in the credibility department. Let’s just hope they don’t put an ad agency head in charge of this social media program!

Sidebar: This approach is not new. It borrows from similar experiments such as The Border film project, using disposable cameras given to people –migrants and Minutemen– on both sides of the fence in the US and Mexico.

I will be keeping tabs on this project, for sure.


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