By Dhyta Caturani
The WTO 9th Ministerial Conference was held in Nusa Dua, Bali, on December 3 – 6, 2013. While thousands of journalists came from around the world to report on the meeting, independent journalists were not able to get media pass to cover the event inside the venue. As always, news that got picked up by the mainstream media were only about the meeting and the insights of WTO actors, while stories from common people on the ground got left out unheard.
Therefore, we thought that it was very important to try to present different narrations from those of WTO and mainstream media by documenting and covering stories from the ground and project what common people and activists say about WTO, as well as bringing up the impacts of WTO to the surface. Working hand in hand with Bali-based Lopulalan Institute (LITE) we invited 16 video journalists/video makers and activists from Bali, Papua, Makassar, Riau, Pontianak, Samarinda, Jakarta, Bandung, Cilacap and Surabaya to participate in the WTOunplugged event that took place at Kopi Kultur, Bali.
The event was started off with a full day workshop, discussing about what is WTO, the impacts of it and the global movement against WTO, journalism ethics and how videos can be a tool to tell our message. In the morning, Edwin Bustillos from Alliance of Progressive Labor (Philippines) came to talk about WTO and the people movement around the world. Mr. Bustillos was in Bali with Gerak Lawan, a coalition of civil society groups and NGOs that mobilised people from all over the world especially Asia in an anti-WTO movement in Bali. Besides Mr. Bustillos, we had Anton Muhajir to discuss about journalism ethics and its practices in Indonesia, and Indu Nepal, EM Managing Director, gave the participants rich insights about journalism ethics practices in the international context.
In the evening of the first day, Mohammed Ikhwan from Indonesia Peasant Union, came to talk about WTO and agriculture; Komang Adiartha from Mitra Bali talked about Fair Trade vs. Free Trade; and Suriadi Dharmoko from Walhi talked about WTO and its impacts on the environment. The three resource persons focused more on the local context, i.e. Bali.
The 2nd day onward was when the real work started. After a morning briefing and discuss their story ideas, all participants went out to make videos in pairs. The idea was to pair one person with great video skills and another with great understanding of the issues. Everyday from day 2 to day 5, participants were out and about Bali to shoot, interview people and at the same time find fresh ideas for their next videos. Entering late afternoon, everyone came back to the venue and edited their videos before they were published on EM site in the evening. Time was our enemy during this process, but our spirit and strong will helped us to work our best within the limited time frame. Within 4 days, 8 teams produced 28 videos with stories range from agriculture, poverty, water, consumerism, anti-WTO movement, women, local economy, and etc.
At the end of the day, we hope that our works could be used by groups or individuals working on the issues and eventually could have larger impacts on social and environmental justice. And one thing that makes us all happy and proud of what we were doing is that we were contributing something to the social movement with something that we are good at: making videos.