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Journalists, readers, and development workers partner to save lives

boys playing in UgandaThe news media have consistently tackled international development and global health issues – disease or malnutrition, for example – getting attention and providing viewers with opportunities to take action.

But recently a few news organizations have taken a more in-depth approach to these issues by partnering with donor agencies to show the big and small picture of international aid, tracking development from the dollar received to the remote village where it is spent.

The UK newspaper The Guardian initiated a three-year project from 2007-2010 to support and report on the development efforts in the village of Katine in Uganda. The  £2.5m project was co-funded by reader donations which were matched by Barclays; the work was carried out by Amref and Farm-Africa.

The website of the project takes readers to a virtual tour of the village, with accompanying videos, articles, interactive graphics and blog entries.  Take a look around the website at http://www.guardian.co.uk/katine. There is a wealth of stories and information – from the local farmer to the young schoolgirl. Some of the videos were even shot by residents.

In addition, more technical content has been provided, with reports and project evaluations from the development workers to show how and why they were – or were not – on track to meet their goals.

The project is a fascinating example of how journalists, readers and development workers can partner to save lives.

And if you’re disappointed you missed out on this opportunity – take heart. ABC News has announced that they will take part in a similar initiative, a year-long series of broadcasts and digital coverage that focuses on global health problems called “Be the Change: Save a Life,” which is supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

As of now, it looks smaller in scope than the Katine project – but perhaps that’s where you come in.

Sarah Whitmarsh is a 2008 graduate of the Medical Journalism Master’s program at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.