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Ears on the earth - the rabble podcast team at the World Social Forum

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The World Social Forum Podcast Team

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When rabble publisher Kim Elliott suggested that I do a podcast from the World Social Forum in Montreal from August 9 to 14, I enthusiastically said, "I'll be there!"

The World Social Forum, for those who haven't heard our podcasts, is a grand gathering to develop international solidarity for global alternatives to neoliberalism. It is the largest annual gathering of civil society organizations in the world.  

The first World Social Forum was held in Porto Alegre in Brazil. This year's Social Forum was the first time that the gathering was to be held in the Global North. It brought together thousands of people in Montreal to participate in over 1,500 self-managed activities and forums.

I'd done daily podcasts from the People's Social Forum in Ottawa in 2014, which was like a warm up for the big, grand gathering in Montreal two years later. I have a background in daily radio, but it was a long time since I'd had to deal with deadlines and needing to get a show out by the end of the day no matter what.  

As our planning progressed with my rabble colleagues, I started thinking that maybe I shouldn't try to do this all myself. I've always wanted to put together a team of journalists to work together, much like I've often done in radio. Podcasting can be a solitary activity -- at the rabble podcast network, our podcasts are all done independently of each other. This was a great way to experiment putting our shows together in a group.

So, we put out the call for volunteers, and three outstanding volunteers answered the call. One of my colleagues from my early days in radio, David Kattenburg, from the Green Planet Monitor, volunteered not just his interviewing skills, but also worked with me as our senior editor (much appreciated as the evening wore on, supper had not yet been had and it looked like I wouldn't be done until 10:00 pm).

Our summer intern extraordinaire Sophia Reuss, proved very quickly that she's a great writer and also a great talker with a keen ear. She very quickly learned how to listen and pick out that perfect sound bite. Campbell McClintock rounded out the team, bringing an interest in learning how to do audio, combined with a keen perceptive outlook on progressive politics and a strong ability to spot potential stories. Their interviewing skills also developed very quickly and we were able to cover a lot more of the hundreds of events than I thought we would be able to.

Our newly formed impromptu team exceeded all my expectations. Having people to talk to about the day's stories, planning our coverage, supporting each other when the story didn't turn out as planned and relaxing at the end of the day isn't only good for the members of the team -- it is good for the stories we cover.

I remember talking to a friend in India about the experiments they were doing with Team Journalism back in 2007. The stories we cover are so much better because we're not working in isolation, he told me. When we work as a team, we get to check our stories with each other. We can challenge each other, we can check our own views of reality with someone else. It's a chance to break through the isolation that we often feel when we are lone reporters working on our own.

As for our bold rabble podcast experiment, I now declare it a successful experiment and am looking forward to the next time we get to cover another big event. I'm already wondering where the next World Social Forum will be, and figuring out how I can get the team to World Social Forum 2017!

Big thanks to David Kattenburg, Sophia Reuss, Campbell McClintock and Greg MacDougall (who we never actually met but appreciated that he constantly updated us via email about things we should be covering).  You are the Dream Team. 'Til next we meet! 

You can hear our five productions: Ears on the Earth by following these links:

Day 1 - Making Media Free

Day 2 - The World Social Forum Begins

Day 3 - Releasing the Corporate Stranglehold

Day 4 - Creating New Stories

Day 5 - Taking the Next Leap

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