Podcasting in Human Rights: Respecting the Storyteller

headphones and mobile phone on table

Join New Tactics for a podcast conversation on the potential of podcasting in human rights activism and the power of narrative storytelling. Hosted by Gianna Brassil.

If names like Serial or This American Life sound familiar to you, you’re probably in the know as to what podcasting is all about--podcasts are downloadable episodes of audio content, typically part of a series on a thematic topic. Over the past few years, podcasts have grown into a dynamic media form, with niche shows catering to listeners’ political, cultural, educational, musical, and technological audio palate. While podcasts are often produced by professional radio stations, they can also be created independent media creators. The freelance nature of podcasts makes them a unique tool for activists who want to broaden the audience of their message through a low-cost means.

In collaboration with podcasts The Irrelevant Arabs (@irrelevantarabs) and Palestinians Podcast (@PalestiniansPod), as well as Sylvia Thomas, producer at Freedom Podcasting Company and Barbara Frey, director of the Human Rights Program at the University of Minnesota, New Tactics created its own podcast that explores issues of representation, the value of oral storytelling, and accessibility in creating independent media.

The tension between a podcast’s entertainment value and the representation of human suffering is a topic that we grapple with in our podcast. We ask questions about how we can create stories that are honest and empathetic, meanwhile knowing that sometimes it is impossible to “create comprehensible stories out of the incomprehensible” (That the World May Know, James Dawes). Our podcast guests also discuss the uniqueness of voices and oral storytelling as tools to re-humanize conflicts and highlight the experiences of individual human lives. Finally, we discuss the accessibility of podcasts. With a microphone, simple audio editing software like Adobe Audition or Garageband, and an online platform such as Soundcloud to distribute episodes, activists can reach countless potential listeners. The power of becoming a media creator cannot be underestimated, and this episode seeks to demonstrate how media creators have the ability to reshape the landscape of representation, define for themselves what it means to be a human rights activist, and nuance an audience’s conception of how human rights stories can be told. 

Scroll to the bottom of the page for a transcript of the podcast.


Thank you for listening and engaging with this month's conversation on podcasting in human rights work. I invite all listeners to share their comments, reflections, and suggestions in the section below. I would love to hear back from listeners with suggestions for podcasts that are doing similar narrative storytelling work, as well as other suggestions for activist driven media and its intersection with human rights. Thank you again, Gianna. 

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by New Tactics
Tue, 05/01/2018 - 11:54am