Cristi Hegranes presentation question and answer session.
>>PRESIDENT KINGTON: Quick question, how to do you deal with the huge variation in base line education that women come from [inaudible]
>>CRISTI HEGRANES: That's a great question. So our program is obviously open to women with this huge diversification in skills. Women with less basic skills and less literacy levels, things like that coming in, they're just producing less. They're not actually earning any less money because they're paid for their time and training and in the editorial process, they're also producing a lot of stories that are just not being showcased on the global level. So most of the stories you see on the GPI newswire are people who have been with the program for at least 6 months to a year, but we try to make it so that the older reporters or the reporters with better skills actually become mentors, and they really work together so it really just boils down to they produce less work for the formal global newswire, but not at the expense of income, that's a really important piece of the program.
>>STUDENT: Could you explain more about the translation process between the local language and English? Who does, how does it happen, how do you check how do you check it for facts?
>>CRISTI: Yeah, that's a great question. One of the main reasons GPI doesn't do breaking news is because our editorial process is quite long. In fact late last year, part of our development team at Third Plateau did an impact analysis of the organization and its, like, the most hilarious graphic you've ever seen when they actually traced our editorial structure, and how things are like, there's an arrow this way and this way and then its sort of over there. It is a very complicated editorial structure.
The translators in these desks are all local people and they are directly accountable to the country editor and so they are trained in fact checking and they're trained in all of these things. It becomes tricky sometimes when translations of direct quotes for example has someone speaking in poor grammar or something that, you know, so a lot of times there's back and forth on things like that to make sure that we're representing people's words as accurately as possible both in local language and in English. And its time consuming, it's very time consuming especially since GPI's focus is on the long form feature. Alright so most GPI stories are longer than 1,000 words, so it is a time consuming process, but it all happens locally and then once the local version is complete, the translation is complete, it gets sent to headquarters in San Francisco and then that draft is edited for any changes, its re-fact checked. A lot of times what happens at that point is that the story is "globalized" as we say. So, because these are local people sometimes they're writing about local customs or local descriptions that people in a mainstream audience, we get about 160 countries per month, people from them reading our news. So we just try to add explanations and things like that and then that version gets sent back and the translations are matched and at that point they go out to their different distribution chains.
So it's a bit of a process, but its absolutely necessary because when you think about what English means, in these communities it means something pretty deep, which is that these are people who have not had access to formal education, which means they are likely of a much different economic status and have a variety of other different social and cultural hardships so I always look at language like its my problem for not speaking their language, and so we try to make it as easy as possible, but yeah it's a good question and it's a time consuming but very necessary part of the process.
>>AUDIENCE MEMBER: So you mentioned one of the most important parts of being a social entrepreneur is finding revenue streams that fit with your mission and make your organization sustainable. Can you talk a little bit about the process of different revenue models that you've gone through and that new exciting one you mentioned.
>>CRISTI: Yeah, definitely. So up until this point, fundraising has been 100 percent of our revenue model, but even just in that, it happens all of the time that people offer funding or foundations offer funding that don't match our mission. You know, we had a corporate foundation offer us funding right at the very beginning for what was for us at the time an extraordinary amount of money but they wanted prior review over content on issues that were controversial for the foundation. So that's a deal breaker, right that's totally a deal breaker. And stuff like that happens, it's not common, but it definitely does happen. So you know looking at...like money's the ultimate corruptor right? We all know that or it at least has the potential to be, so looking at the money you're bringing in to your organization as needing to be as on-mission as humanly possible is super, super important.
Another example of how looking at revenue models has to match your mission, recently our team who's working on the research and development of the syndication platform came to me and said, there's a huge money making opportunity out there that you're not taking advantage of: Getty Images and these other stock image databases. Because GPI reporters take their own photographs, sometimes they're extraordinarily amazing and there's a huge market for those and they're really expensive. The problem is when you put a photo on Getty Images, it's for sale, anyone can buy it.
So for example, last month we celebrated International Day of the Girl at Global Press Institute by producing a huge series of stories about girls from all over the world with a ton of photography. The photography was amazing, but if we put it on Getty Images, there is absolutely nothing in the world that would prevent someone building a site dedicated to child pornography from using our images, and once that happened, I would have no recourse because I made that deal with Getty Images that they could sell our photos. So a deal like that with Getty Images or many others would fast forward our sustainability process, but at a huge cost to our mission and our values. So it is difficult and the contract process to, you know, actually work with mainstream media to make sure they're not editing or changing our stories and things like is pretty time consuming, but it's definitely worth it because it's serving a global good but also an organizational good as well.
>>STUDENT: So you mentioned that lobbying process that happens in each country, so I'm wondering from my experience, I'm from Turkey, there are some great laws that prevent so really bad [inaudible] but they're very much not implemented like [inaudible]. So people go to prisons, they get tortured and it's against the law but these things happens all of the time. So I was wondering, these laws how much of them do you actually implemented and how do you even measure that?
>>CRISTI: Sure, that's a great question. And measuring impact... measuring the impact of story is one of the hardest things you can do, right? Because a story, we look at it like an endless ripple effect. Story can change so much or nothing at all and it's very difficult to put a data point on it, or put, you know, a really specific indicator on it. The best answer I can give as to yes, in our seven year history, almost seven year history, we have two laws, two law changes to our credit. By sustaining a free, fair, ethical investigative news organization in those countries, we don't ensure that the law will be implemented to its fullest, but we ensure that those who do not implement it will continue to be called to action. So, we use the power of story to get those laws changed, and we will continue to get...to use the power of story to ensure that people's human rights are being valued and respected and local law makers who actually went through the process of changing this law are held accountable for their actions.
>>STUDENT: Great talk. I have a question about censorship and self-censorship. Of course you're, you know, not in countries where media can operate freely, but I mention there are also sometimes tendencies towards censorship, a lot of countries have laws that put restrictions on the media for example for writing stories that are critical of government officials and that sort of thing and also I was interested in self-censorship because even though you watch out for the women and not put them in danger, there may be some kinds of stories that can put them in danger and I'm just wondering how you handle both those kinds of censorship?
>>CRISTI: Both excellent questions. With regard to self-censorship, we do a pretty robust what we call story coaching process at the beginning. So when someone pitches a story, they're working with a GPI editor to actually sus-out any potential dangers ahead of time. Sometimes though, dangers come up in the course of reporting a story, and what happens more often is not self-censorship but Cristi censorship. I've pulled a handful of stories off the wire in our history, which actually is very difficult decision because the journalist in me wants those stories out there so badly but never at the expense of one of our reporters.
That definitely has come up, and we have three stories right now that we're holding: one from Sri Lanka, which is a really up and down media environment that we've been holding for a while just trying to see what the environment will turn to and will look like, but I always will err on the side of safety for our reporters. With regard to... Brad turn off the live stream, I'm just kidding... with regard to countries and censorship, it's an interesting issue. We hear a lot about countries like China and their very robust online censorship. The truth is that a lot of the countries where we operate, censor print and radio deliberately and all of the time, but just frankly don't have the capacity to censor online content. So for example in Zimbabwe, which is one of the most difficult media environments where we work, we don't distribute a lot of our news there, so our news in Zimbabwe mostly goes out to a global audiene.
At the end of last year 2011, yeah last year, we produced an incredible story about political rape, one of the most violent, vulgar and terrible stories you will ever read in your life about how women campaigning for the opposition party in the previous election were systematically raped in some of the most violent ways I've ever heard described. Gertrude, our reporter, won the Reuters Foundation Kirk Shirk Award for International Reporting and they invited both Gertrude and myself to London for what I'm sure would have been a lovely event. Accepting an award like that would have been extraordinarily dangerous for Gertrude and for the other GPI reporters and luckily the folks at the Reuters Foundation were very graceful and also a little bit crafty in the way they said that we were not accepting the award, but they were giving it to us anyway.
So it does come up all the time. I spent half my summer in Ethiopia, you know, trying to work out the logistics of getting our new radio show on the Ethiopia Radio and Television Agency and it's a big win for us that we have this show that we're working on in partnership with the Nike Foundation but, all final shows are still going to have to go through what is essentially a Censorship Board in Ethiopia because their censorship restrictions are just huge and insane. And in countries like that, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia, we want to do the best we can for as many people as we possibly can. It's not ideal, but it's what we can do, and it's what we feel comfortable doing for the safety of our journalists.
>>STUDENT: My question is on culture. How do you handle cultural discontent, or like rejection from local culture. Obviously a lot of the people from the San Francisco office don't know about these cultures is there also rejection from men. How do you handle men stopping women or wives or sisters from working and how do you handle that? Because, I mean, not only the language barrier but also just understanding of the country when you're not living there, how do you handle that?
>>CRISTI: Sure, both great questions. First and foremost, one of the things I learned right away as a foreign correspondent is that while I was in Nepal reporting, editors from 10,000+ miles away were often telling what me to what to write about. I was telling them what I'm seeing and they were saying, "That's great. Please write about this." And so at GPI, everything is derived from the local community. So by employing 100 percent local people in these desks, we don't, we rely on them to negotiate issues of culture in terms of the reporting.
Now in terms of the actual journalists coming into the program, male buy-in, family buy-in, those things are so, so important. We do things at our news desks like, the desks are open so that families can use the Internet for free during the weekends so, you know, husbands or fathers or brothers don't get the sense that the GPI office is like this deep, dark place where we are, like, brain-washing their women, right? At the same time, part of the recruitment interview process, the questions are designed to filter out or to ascertain information about a women's home life. It happens actually in almost every single recruitment period that somebody will say, "I'm so excited about this. I snuck out of my house. My husband would kill me if he knew that I was here, but I'm so excited to be here." It's heartbreaking, but that person cannot join our program. It would put her in direct risk on a very regular basis. So it's difficult, it's definitely difficult. The global editors of GPI who are working in the headquarters are all very traveled which helps, but just as in my experience as a foreign correspondent, it's no substitute for knowing, so reporters and local editors drive 110 percent of the editorial process and that's really the only way that we think it should or really could function.
>>SARAH PURCELL: George Drake gets the last question.
>>GEORGE DRAKE: Actually, she asked it. I was wondering how the men respond to women having these opportunities. Are a lot of your women un-married, you partly answered it there, but...
>>SARAH: We're going to have now just one more question but you can answer first.
>>CRISTI: You know it's no coincidence that two of the best GPI reporters have two of the most amazing husbands. I will tell you that that is not at all a coincidence. It can be difficult, but we are seeing changes. I would say about 60 percent of GPI reporters are married with children. It can be difficult, but we're seeing it change, even in a place like Nepal where 5 years ago people just straight out would not talk to Tara or some of the other reporters there. Where now, she can walk into their office and say, "we need to talk right now" and they are like, "Sure. Welcome. Would you like tea?"
So we're seeing it change over time, it's absolutely still a barrier though, it's still a barrier and as GPI is planning our expansion and development in the future, we are looking to heavily invest in Middle Eastern countries and North Africa where the gender roles, gender barriers, and access are going to, just, become more difficult. That's one of the main reasons when people always say "When I look at the map of GPI, there's a big blank spot in the Middle East and North Africa." And frankly its because we haven't in the past had the means to ensure their safety. You know when, as a non-profit organization, you have 3 grand in the bank, that's not the time that you want to start taking risks with other people's lives, but as we grow and are able to sustain, we do intend on making a very deep and direct impact in that region. But not without an extraordinary amount of research in terms of making sure that we launch the program in exactly the right place and it's always going to be a challenge.
You know over the last seven years, GPI has a 93 percent retention rate, 93 percent of all of the women we've ever trained are still employed by GPI today. Some of, most of, the women who are no longer with the program are no longer with the program because they were single when they started GPI and they got married and their husbands didn't like it or they moved because their husband's job moved or something like that. We're very conscious of the... of the tension, but it's so important to say again that GPI, yes we train and employ women, but this is not politics, it's good sense. So by no means do we want to exclude men from our process, right? My right hand person day-to-day is Mike Birkowitz. 60 percent of our board of directors are men. Our NGO partners around the world most are lead by men, and we absolutely recognize that for gender barriers to decrease, it has to be a unified effort. So we work to... we strive for that both in our news coverage but also in the way that we operate.
>>STUDENT: Hi, so you somewhat just spoke to this, but you talked about how you evaluate countries for their safety for your reporters, but then also how your goal is to make the greatest impact possible. I'm wondering, its seems to me like in the countries that the greatest impact... the greatest change is needed is where it is most dangerous for your reporters and I'm wondering if that just seems like a vicious cycle because if your reporters aren't there, then there's no social change, and then it's not safe for your reporters, so I'm wondering how in the future you are looking to move into countries that right now are currently unstable.
>>CRISTI: No, I think that's a really smart question. I think the answer is two parts. First and foremost, I absolutely get the thinking that the places where it's the hardest are the places where the impact is the greatest, but I'm not sure I entirely agree with that because our world knows so little about the reality of places like Zambia and Botswana and rural Chile and all of these places where we're operating, that I think it can definitely be argued that it doesn't have to be super dangerous in order for there to be an extraordinary impact. But I would also say that... you know you're absolutely right, we do want to move into these more challenging environments and the journalist in me wants to be, wants GPI to be in Syria right now. I want to be in Jordan covering the protests as they happen, telling those extended stories, but Global Press Institute is built for long term change. 50 years from now, you and I can have a conversation where, you know, we can talk about if we waited too long or if we went too soon into certain places. In 2007 when I met one of our board members, Sibyl Masquelier, she still remembers this. We had just met and she asked me, "So GPI is in one country." At the time we were just in one country. "How many do you want to be in?" And I said, "all of them." So, we're still working towards that goal and right now it's just, it's really a matter of strategic priorities and looking at where we can do the most good for the least harm.