lecture: Radio Dabanga Massive audience engagement in (human rights/humanitarian) reporting
To report on conflict, journalists need sources, verified information and visuals in order to accurately report what is happening in conflict zones.
To report on conflict, journalists need sources, verified information and visuals in order to accurately report what is happening in conflict zones. In the case of Sudan, there is not much visual evidence on social media available, which is different than the conflict in Syria where hours of conflict are published. People share information, photos and videos on more closed of channels: Radio Dabanga, a project of the Radio Darfur Network, a coalition of Sudanese journalists and international (media) development organizations, is one of the first to tap into this.
In this talk, members of the Radio Dabanga team will provide an overview of Radio Dabanga’s work and a description of their daily struggles to report on the conflicts in Sudan. They will describe how they gather, analyze and share news on the conflict by using chat media extensively.
Most reports are sent in and collected using a WhatsApp number which gets flooded with hundreds of messages every day. The solution Radio Dabanga came up with is using a chatbot that can filter messages and respond to information that people send. This chatbot will be used by Radio Dabanga's journalists to filter the most important information and visuals as well as prompt the submitter with additional questions to better understand the situation being reported.
This talk will primarily look into how an open source technical solution can be used effectively in a conflict context and dig deeper into the technical features of the chatbot ‘s prototype. We will also describe the process we engaged in which led from an idea to building a prototype of the chatbot.
About the chatbot:
In collaboration with Humanity X, Radio Dabanga has developed an open source tool, currently in alpha stage, which parses and filters incoming WhatsApp messages and prompts the submitter with additional questions about the shared report. We have developed a rule based chat engine and adapters for various chat platforms. The backend is 'smart enough' to hide the 90% to 95% of engagements that do not require manual responses. Which means that the 5%-10% of the engagements that require manual intervention by the journalists/editors and provide important humanitarian information and report human rights abuses are highlighted in the dashboard for easy access by the Radio Dabanga team.
By prompting and securing digital documentation relating to the conflict in Sudan, Radio Dabanga can report important information more effectively. The open source chatbot can be used by other media houses, humanitarian & human rights organisations, which will increase their capacity to communicate with their audiences.
This chatbot aims to be a widely used tool that uses audience engagement to demand accountability against perpetrators of the conflict. After the talk we like to further discuss with the CCC audience about the latest chatbots technologies and smart ways of dealing with the issue described.