ON THE AGENDA: A shiny new website and big thinkers galore

by Tim Large | @timothylarge | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Wednesday, 24 April 2013 09:00 GMT

Residents eat lunch outside a damaged house after Saturday's earthquake in Lingguan town of Baoxing county, Sichuan province April 22, 2013. REUTERS/Aly Song

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* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

A sneak peek at what's in our hopper for the week of April 22

This week’s “On the Agenda” column comes from New York where we’re preparing for the April 24 launch of the new Trust.org site, which will merge all our news services – AlertNet, TrustLaw and Independent Journalism – onto a single platform.

Tip-offs of that merger, which I flagged in a provocatively titled blog post last week, have ruffled feathers.

Some, like Steve Somerville, chairman of the Reuter Society and founder of AlertNet in 1997, have expressed concern that we are throwing away a 15-year old brand that has come to stand for accurate, independent reporting on humanitarian issues, including many of the forgotten crises that don’t make mainstream headlines.

It’s a valid point.

I’ve spent more than a few sleepless nights weighing up the benefits of brand continuity with demands from users for an easier way to navigate the range of topics covered by our global team of journalists: humanitarian issues, climate change, women’s rights, corruption, media development and social innovation.

In the end, we’ve opted for a hybrid solution. All our content will sit on a single Thomson Reuters Foundation website. But you’ll be able to hone in on what you want through clearly branded filter buttons. AlertNet, TrustLaw and Independent Journalism will live on as “slices” or “views” of the new site. It’s just that they’ll be rubbing shoulders a whole lot more.

To mark the launch of the new Trust.org – which coincides with the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s 30th birthday – we’ve commissioned blogs and commentary pieces from many big thinkers in the fields we cover.

Expect articles from a Nobel laureate or two, plus the likes of environmental guru Lester Brown, Women’s Refugee Commission head Sarah Costa and pop singer-turned-activist Annie Lennox (who will also feature in an interview by Astrid Zweynert).

Other interesting figures who are either setting pen to paper or face a good grilling from our correspondents include Helen Clark, head of the U.N. Development Programme; Alex Thier, Washington’s top aid official in Afghanistan; Stuart Bowen, special investigator on corruption in Iraq; former U.N. relief coordinator John Holmes; World Food Programme head Etharin Cousin; Rockefeller Foundation President Judith Rodin; Minky Worden from Human Rights Watch; Lakshmi Puri, acting head of UN Women; and Hermitage Capital Management CEO Bill Browder.

Meanwhile, across the world in a remote, rural corner of southwestern China, rescuers are struggling to reach survivors of the country’s worst quake in three years. We’ll keep you updated as relief efforts continue.

In Colombia, Anastasia Moloney will be venturing outside of government-controlled territory for an intimate look at life in a region where the only rule of law is the rule of the gun and “narco-culture” is the norm.

And we have intriguing reportage from one of the most inaccessible places on earth: eastern Yemen. Expect a tale of danger and discomfort in a hostile land where time began and a marginalised community people are hungry for independence.

Other issues on our agenda include a critical look at World Bank proposals for ending world poverty by 2030 and a feature on water mismanagement in western India, where dams are empty, farmlands parched and millions face food shortages. We’ll also be investigating forced evictions in Haiti's remaining tent cities.

In India, protests have erupted again after the shocking kidnap, rape and torture of a 5-year-old girl. Women’s rights groups are demanding that police who refused to file the complaint of the missing child be charged under the country’s new anti-rape law. Nita Bhalla will have a story and blog.

Meanwhile, in the United States, we’ll be looking at a campaign to reduce the backlog of hundreds of thousands of untested “rape kits”. The U.S. was in the vanguard of countries gathering DNA and other forensic evidence from rape victims, but it has become a laggard in processing that evidence.

Luke Balleny will be exploring issues around tax evasion and those who blow the whistle on it by leaking bank account data from the likes of Switzerland. Sometimes leakers or whistleblowers are paid huge amounts of money by other countries for information. Are they criminals? Are the other countries complicit in the crime?

In Thailand, Thin Lei Win is looking at how criminal defamation laws are used to muzzle the media and rights activists. She also has a first-person account of a gay Kachin refugee's struggle for acceptance in one of the refugee camps along the Thai-Burma border.

The first round of 2013 climate change negotiations kicks off in Bonn next week. What are the least developed countries looking to achieve this year? There's been talk they are going to agree to make binding emissions cuts, but this is not a formal position as yet. Megan Rowling is on the case.

Stay tuned – and do check out the new site on April 24. We want your feedback and urge you to give it to us straight.