I worked as a journalist for magazines and newspapers from 1991 to 1997 in Canada and the United Kingdom and as a radio host for a weekly spoken word interview programme, Word of Mouth (CKLN-FM). This included working as an investigative journalist for Now Magazine, “Toronto’s alternative news and entertainment source”, as a Medical and Health Correspondent for Today’s Seniors, and as an investigative journalist and reporter for two Financial Times newsletters, New Media Markets and Screen Finance.
From 2007, I researched and wrote stories for two United Nations publications: e-newsletter Development Challenges, South-South Solutions and magazine Southern Innovator. Links to a small sample of published stories by theme are below:
We were able to identify numerous trends that were at the time being overlooked or under-reported; trends that could radically re-shape international development. This included the rapid rise ofmobile phonesin the global South and their powerful impact on economic development, the rush to cities and urban areas that was turning the world into a majority urban place, and the shift to greater South-South trade, investment and contact. Whereas the past involved people always looking North for inspiration, capital and business and trade relationships, this was shifting to South-South arrangements. And there were plenty of inspirational, modern, 21st century examples of economic, social and human development achievements across the global South to report on. By consistently tracking and chronicling a quiet revolution underway in the global South, the e-newsletter was able to draw attention to a rising 21st-century global innovator culture being shaped by the use of mobile phones and information technologies. Few at the time had grasped how much this was going to reshape the international development paradigm.
To start, the e-newsletterDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions(begun in 2006), was used to gather together as many stories, data, trends, and contacts as possible and get this message to as wide a group as possible. Luckily, this coincided with the very moment whole swathes of the global South were coming online, either through connecting with mobile phones or through the Internet. Quickly, it became clear there was not a lack of inspiring stories and innovations and solutions to share, but a lack of resources to communicate them. One solution was to utilise a new publishing tool that emerged in 2007: crowd-powered news services. It became a great way to bypass the stranglehold on news and information held by traditional media. Read more on this here:http://www.scribd.com/doc/251968773/Southern-Innovator-Summary-of-Impact-2011-to-2012
In particular, the e-newsletter caught the eye of those looking for inspiration in the wake of the 2007/2008 global economic crisis:
“Great economic and business reporting! Very helpful for us.” Africa Renewal, Africa Section, Strategic Communications Division, United Nations Department of Public Information
“I just went over your June newsletter. It’s very well done and far reaching. Congratulations!” Violette Ruppanner, Director, 3D -> Trade – Human Rights – Equitable Economy, Geneva, Switzerland
“Just to let you know I enjoyed the newsletter a lot – it was interesting to learn about things going on that I would never otherwise find out about, and also the listing of future conferences and events proved very useful.” Ian Sanderson, Deloitte, Geneva, Switzerland
“Congratulations on another great newsletter that’s packed with fascinating information! I really enjoy getting it each month.” Whitney Harrelson, Making Cents, Washington D.C.
2008: Development work begins on the concept for a book on innovation in the global South. Attend an Africa trade-focused meeting in Switzerland just as the global crisis breaks. Witness attendees dash from the event as they get frantic calls from London and New York. Undertake Cuba study tour with the BSHF.
2010: Begin working with graphic designer and illustrator Solveig Rolfsdottir and graphic designer Eva Hronn Gudnadottir in Reykjavik, Iceland on the initial concepts for what would become Southern Innovator. The working title for the new magazine is Creative Sparks.
2014: The fifth issue ofSouthern Innovatoris launched at the Global South-South Development Expo (GSSD Expo) in Washington, D.C.. Southern Innovator has always tried to inspire others to take action and this has turned out to be the case.
“Beautiful, inspiring magazine from UNDP on South-South innovation. Heart is pumping adrenaline and admiration just reading it”
Once blazing a lonely trail, there are now many places to find stories on global South innovation (The Guardian, SciDev, Devex, Business Fights Poverty, Zunia etc.). Mainstream media have also woken up to the energy and change sweeping across the global South, disrupting its regular diet of negative news stories focused around war, disasters and failure (unfortunately, still the majority of what most people see on their TV).
“I liked your latest Southern innovator! Always inspiring.”
“Btw, I really enjoyed reading them, impressive work & a great resource. Looking forward to Issue 6. My best wishes to you & your team at SI.”
“The magazine looks fantastic, great content and a beautiful design!”
If you would like hard copies of the magazine for distribution, then please contact the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation: Website:http://ssc.undp.org/content/ssc.html. If you would like to either sponsor an issue ofSouthern Innovatoror place an advertisement in the magazine, then please contact email@example.com. This is a great opportunity to reach millions around the world and to connect with the pioneers and innovators shaping this new world. WithIssue 5tackling the timely theme of Waste and Recycling, this is the moment to get on board and help support SI. With global urbanization levels continuing to rise, fresh thinking of the kind found inSouthern Innovator‘s fifth issue is urgently required.
A paper prepared for the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) in 2013. The paper marked a key milestone in both China’s innovation achievements and that of the global South as it embraced the mobile and information technology revolution.
Also that year the United Nations launched its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), utilising innovation and South-South Cooperation as the tools to accelerate development goals.
Southern Innovator was cited in UN strategic plans and the magazine’s influence can be seen across the UN as it works to achieve the SDGs. In a sense, Southern Innovator‘s design vision and data-driven and mobile-driven innovators were folded into the bigger policy agendas and funding priorities of the SDGs today.