GPJ Handles Dual Challenge to Provide Context for Local, Global Readers

April 18, 2017

GLOBAL PRESS HQ — In joining Global Press Journal, I knew I was working with a worldwide source of information that is respected by the international development community for providing on-the-ground accounts by local reporters of what is happening in some of the least-covered places on earth.

What I am only now fully understanding in my third month of editing news here is that GPJ also is a hyperlocal source of information in our reporters’ home cities, provinces and villages. In the first two weeks of March alone, nearly 4,000 readers in Zimbabwe clicked in to read our articles, and thousands in Democratic Republic of Congo did the same. Big numbers in DRC reflect the fact that we publish our stories in both French and English there.

So our reporters and editors must keep two audiences in mind: those inside the country where the news is occurring, and readers from around the world. Context has to be there for both.

When we’re editing an article about drinking water in DRC, for instance, we realize that our DRC readers know that Bukavu is the capital of South Kivu province in the eastern edge of the country, near the Rwandan border, and they don’t need the story to state this. But if we don’t add that contextual information, most of our international readers will either go scurrying to Wikipedia to figure it out — or stop reading entirely. We always try to remember that context describing the place is essential to anchor international readers, so they can better visualize where the action of the story occurs.

Similarly, an editor with only an international audience in mind might delete many details necessary to fully inform our local audiences. GPJ’s Bukavu article describes an International Red Cross study, which may not be explained in the local press, of options for a water treatment system that might eventually provide potable water to tens of thousands of families. GPJ reporter Esther Nsapu spent several paragraphs on the IRC’s suggested options for bringing water to various neighborhoods. Her story specifies where on the Nyambasha and the Ruzizi rivers catchment systems would be placed, to which tanks the water would flow and what path it would then take to which Bukavu neighborhoods.

The final GPJ article, published in both English and French, thus becomes an important source of local information for residents. This reporting is especially crucial in nations where GPJ stories may be the only sources of such details.

That’s why we go the extra step and post many of our articles in local languages. For instance, our articles by reporters in Mexico and Argentina appear in Spanish and English. Global Press News Service, our syndication division, serves dozens of outlets in Spanish and French too. And in-country, local language radio stations are among our most frequent clients.

Providing context for both local and international readerships is one of the key responsibilities of our reporters and editors, and makes GPJ the unique information source that it is.