Some time ago, in the late 1990’s, I’m not really sure of the year but I certainly know the time, I was sitting at a table at Poor Richards, a small local pizza/progressive hang out in Colorado Springs. I was a journalist, working full-time at daily paper in town but I was getting bored with what I saw as the box of traditional journalism.
Across from me was a black couple – Janie and Ramon McGee – who were a marvel to me for so many reasons. They were black artists, I volunteered with them to create O’Hoho, an artist support group for African-Americans – a bold move in a town about 90 percent white. They were double digit married – married as long as my parents, a novelty for any couple these days but definitely unique for a black couple. They were like Christian hippies, complete with a large multi-room commune-like home where everyone gathered to talk about religion, race, culture, God and other fluff topics. The McGees were Felix to my Unger, Weird Harold to my Fat Albert, wild man to my straight man and whenever I was around them I thought bigger, dared more and dreamed a lot.
So at that corner table just about closing time The McGees were prompting me as they did so many times, “What is it that you want to do?”
We were talking about my future and after some hemming and hawing, I finally grabbed a napkin from that elongated small metal bin that you always find on the tables of local restaurants, took out my pen and began to draw.
I drew a web homepage, a portal is what I called it, where someone would log on to their computer and their portal would greet them. It would have the weather forecast for wherever they were, and for where they were going. It would have the colors they liked, the font they loved, and other little personalized details. But most importantly, it would have all the news that they wanted to read and ONLY the news that they wanted to read. With one-button access to all the news of the world.
Now I’m not saying that I predicted Google or anything or that I discovered the pathway to online news greatness but that night, at that loud pizza joint, with those amazingly brilliant people encouraging me to dream, I envisioned a different way to deliver the journalism that I so loved to produce.
That dream is coming true and it’s called World Media Now.
I left newspapers a year after that conversation, I thought it was for good but it was really so that I could begin my education in business, global culture, economics, digital programming, social media and technology so that I could make that napkin dream come true.
In the last eight years I’ve traveled to more than 30 countries writing stories about children and families struggling to survive in a hostile world but who emerge from some of the most inhumane situations the world has ever seen with an unimaginable amount of faith, hope and love. In each country I visited I got the same request
“Please tell them what’s happening to us,” they begged. “Please tell them what’s going on.”
And in 2011 another amazingly brilliant person Judy Isacoff, a former editor of mine, called me about an idea she had about training journalists We worked with others first but soon, after talking to each other we discovered we had our own pretty good idea.
Why not train ordinary citizens around the globe, equip them with basic journalism skills and tools and have them produce content about the humanitarian issues that most affect them and then publish that content to the public?
Publishing the content is where our idea and my dream in 1999 intersects. By leveraging technology to personalize global news we can affect true change in our society. I firmly believe that this is our Greatest Generation Moment, this is our Tiananmen Square, our Nelson Mandela stance, our Been to the Mountaintop moment.
Our world is blessed with enough resources that each one of us should have access to clean energy, water, adequate food and shelter, a decent education and a violent free life. Having the afflicted share their own stories with the world is an essential step in informing, engaging and empowering all of us to end the world’s ills.
Learn more about World Media Now and the movement to transform our world change by allowing citizens everywhere to share their stories with those who wish to change this world for the better.