Democracy is…

Article published on Oct. 6, 2008
Article published on Oct. 6, 2008
The US State Department has launched its first "Democracy Video Challenge", and is asking youth to complete the sentence "Democracy Is..." through the medium of digital video, in an attempt to invite youth to apply multiple forces toward expressing their present reality as well as shaping the future. So get your video cameras rolling because the Challenge is on!

Started in collaboration with NGO partners like the National Democratic Institute and TakingITGlobal/Youth Media Exchange, as well as big players from the the film industry (NBC Universal) and academia (NYU Tisch School of the Arts), the goal of this contest is to gather and amplify global youth voices in defining democracy.

The creators of the winning videos will receive an all-expense trip to Washington DC, Los Angeles and New York to screen their film and meet with other filmmakers and democracy advocates. Six winners will be chosen from different regions of the world and the seventh will be an anonymous winner.

Hosting a youth-targeted video contest on YouTube is certainly not the first thing one would expect from the US government, or any State government for that matter, so this contest could be the opening of a new and updated chapter in public diplomacy-- and you could be a part of it. According to the U.S. Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, James K. Glassman, “The Challenge breaks fresh ground for the use of new media in public diplomacy. We in the State Department and our partners are not trying to define democracy for young people around the world. Rather, the Challenge asks participants to share their visions of what democracy means,”

No government officials will be involved in the selection process and in deciding who wins. A panel of independent judges from both the democracy and media world, and the public, will be deciding which videos most effectively answer the question.

There are not many rules: videos must be 3 minutes or less, mustn’t incite violence or use profanity, must be subtitled in English and submitted by January 31, 2009, and the winners must be over 18 to collect the prize. The contest is pretty vague on how that sentence can be completed but most likely the videos that find a way to creatively and poignantly address the topic will emerge as winners. So let your imagination go, your creative juices flow, and you could be the voice on Democracy for your region of the world!

The Democracy Video Challenge (English) Youth Media Exchange will be kicking off a blog contest next week completing the sentence “Democracy is...” , so if you need to practice and tune up for making your video, this could be a good place to start.