Tag Archives: NGO

Giving from across the globe

In one of my sociology classes today, we talked about a Web site called Kiva, which facilitates microlending interest free loans from levels as low as a single person to a single person.

My roommate had already heard of the idea of microlending, but it was a totally new concept to me. The “Today” show picked up on it in this online video.

Basically, I can go online and read about a woman who needs money for materials to start a clothing business, for example. I can donate any amount $25 and up to help her get started. People from Kiva check out all the people who need lending and have less than a 2 percent default rate.

I checked out the site upon returning from campus, and it turns out that a lot of Guatemalans have prospered from the site–most of them women. There’s a field partner group called Friendship Bridge, which aims to prevent the cycle of poverty.

Kiva seems like a great example of social entrepreneurship, rather than simply an NGO. The Web site is done by volunteer work (often through other organizations) and donations.

I can think of a lot of people I saw in Guatemala who would love $50 to start a business endeavor or to fertilize land.


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Filed under Social Work

The difference between NGOs and journalists

The balance between a journalist and a NGO is tricky. A journalist must always strive to be objective (though this is often not entirely possible) and definitely independent.

We had this discussion in class last night reflecting on our time spent with Hope of Life in Guatemala. In staying with the organization, many of the townspeople thought our journalism group was missionaries too. That doesn’t seem very independent.

American readers know (most likely) nothing about the organization. What they will know is what we choose to put in our stories. And our stories (should be) from a third party point of view, like a good journalistic story should be.

Some NGOs are choosing to eliminate the middle man (journalist) and do the reporting on their own. Charlie Beckett, who often writes that journalism should involve the public more, noted in his blog that charities want people to see these international places in the same way that they do. I think it’s great that they want to get the word out.

But this isn’t journalism. Beckett questions this practice:

“This is bad for the media and the NGOs as in the long-term both will lose credibility. The news media needs to learn how to use public participation without cheating, while the charities need to learn some media literacy and ethics.”

In class, we came to the conclusion that while Hope of Life wanted us to report in the way they saw it, we wanted to do the stories that we found. Hope of Life is a wonderful organization that does great work, but many organizations do great work. I’m documenting what I saw–not what I want people to think.


Filed under International Journalism