by Shoshana Lovett-Graff
Over the past few months, the world has been skyrocketed into pandemic: misinformation about coronavirus has spread quickly, and people across the world are anxiously trying to decipher social media posts, government warnings, and mainstream media in order to access real people’s experiences in crisis zones. The spread of fake news and biased reporting during the coronavirus crisis is indicative of the mistrust in news generally – a 2016 Gallup poll shows that only 31% of Americans trust the national news. In conflict zones, there is an added complication: each side gets caught up in its own narrative and is unable to see past its own media scope. It’s clear that a new type of journalism is needed: one that acknowledges truth as multifaceted and complex, and seeks to eliminate a middleman motivated by politics or profit. SalamTalk, a new media platform for citizen journalism, wants to fill this gap.
SalamTalk focuses on facilitating dialogue and citizen journalism across Israel and Palestine, allowing anyone to be a journalist through virtual conversations and reports transcending borders. The peer-to-peer network used by SalamTalk allows for direct conversation, which keeps conversations secure and encrypted. Users can filter their conversations by nationality, location, and languages spoken, and decide to have a free-form conversation about any topic they choose, or use guidelines provided by experts. After the conversation, people rate their conversational partner on openness, reliability, aggression and inconsideration. The citizen journalism platform operates through an incentivized peer-review system.
The platform works at the intersection between personal and political, asking questions like:
what happens when nameless statistics become real faces? What happens when political information is directly addressed in conflict zones, instead of skirted around? SalamTalk acknowledges that we can only make the best judgment of the truth when we have access to multifaceted, personal experiences.
SalamTalk is run by an all-volunteer network spanning the US, Germany, The Netherlands, Israel, Palestine, and more.
For more information, please visit the SalamTalk website. Sign up to the newsletter or social media for latest updates, and contribute to the crowdfunding campaign to get the platform off the ground.