What problem are you trying to solve?
Media freedom deteriorates in Belarus: 101 independent journalists were detained in 2017, 69 journalists were fined for their work, more than in the 2014-2016 combined. In 2018 not only journalists but individual bloggers and vloggers (video bloggers), as well as individuals sharing posts on their social media accounts were detained and fined.
This makes it difficult for independent CSOs, activists, and media to reach out to the public, attract their attention and inform them about the current situation with the human rights and other social and political issues in Belarus.
What is your solution to this problem?
This a YouTube channel ‘Our House’ TV ( www.youtube.com/user/NashDomTV). The channel initially was an activist media platform sharing information about social and political activism and issues that “Our House” was addressing.
Soon we focused on the task of making politics ‘fun’ or interesting for a diverse audience. For this, we used formats of animation cartoons, late-night shows, human interest stories, educational formats of webinars, and DIY when it comes to the protection of own rights.
Then we started co-operation with other, seemingly non-political, video bloggers creating a series about consumers’ rights in Belarus and educational videos on politics and society for children.
With the pressure on vloggers and users of social media rising in Belarus and YouTube being officially recognised as a media outlet, we realised that the way to resist to such pressure is to unite into one multi-channel network that protects the individual vloggers and allows them to continue their activism.
What is your latest update on your innovation?
‘Our House TV’ started to work on viral videos only in 2016 and in 2017 it started to build itself as a multi-channel network for activists. However, it has a steady progress in building communication with its
target audience. It is an official partner of YouTube. As yet the channel was viewed 1 590 902 times; the viewing time is 2 850 829 minutes (or 1 448 days). Most active users of ‘Our House TV’ are viewers from Belarus. It is also watched in Russia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Kazakhstan, Germany, USA, Latvia, Poland, and Moldova. In 2017 the team of ‘Our House TV’ produced 35 videos.
Why are you going to win the Best Innovation for Development Award?
Conventional formats of conversations about politics are boring for majority of people in Belarus. Moreover, for the last 20 years ‘politics’, ‘activism’, ‘opposition’ became swear words. It is well known that when citizens don’t politics, politics does them. Vloggers that could change this attitude and make conversation about the political change vibrant and attractive are being pressured via new laws on social media and need protection themselves. The project provides this protection.