New mothers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo held at the hospital until they can pay their bills. Clashes between animal-rights activists and practitioners of traditional animal sports in India. You aren’t likely to read stories about these issues in the mainstream international media, even though they’re important to the communities they affect.
Global Press Institute, started in 2006 by foreign correspondent Cristi Hegranes, is working to change that. Aiming for a news model based on the local communities of developing countries, the institute trains women around the globe to be working journalists.
When Hegranes was a foreign correspondent in Nepal in the early 2000s, she observed two things about the coverage of developing countries in the international press: The correspondents tended to be men from Western countries, and the stories they told focused on war, poverty, disaster and disease. These elements, Hegranes said, are “definitely a reality in all the places where we work, but it’s not the whole story.”
In deciding where to focus its energy, Global Press looks for places that lack a healthy local media and that suffer from what Hegranes calls “one-note coverage.” The group’s program is very selective — Hegranes says Global Press receives hundreds of applications for the four-to-10 training slots in every community. Few of the women accepted into the program have journalism experience. The training lasts from six months to a year and gives participants training in journalism basics such as developing story angles, interview techniques, photojournalism and writing.
The institute hires every woman who completes its training program. “They’re all earning strong living wages, and our full- and part-time reporters all have health benefits.”
The reporters trained through the program publish their work in Global Press Journal. (See sidebar)
In its first 10 years, Global Press Institute relied on philanthropic support, primarily through the MacArthur Foundation, a U.S. foundation supporting nonprofit organizations in 50 countries. But since 2015, when it launched the Global Press News Service, it has earned revenues by working with partner newspapers around the world to offer its stories individually or through a subscription service.
“There are people, we believe, who are born to be journalists the world over but lack the opportunity because of their gender or because of their socio-economic background,” said Hegranes. “Our program is looking to find those women and give them what we hope becomes the opportunity of a lifetime.”