In May 2020, as the world celebrated World Press Freedom Day amid a raging pandemic, Rappler introduced Lighthouse, its new content delivery and community engagement platform.
Lighthouse reimagined Rappler from scratch, considering its pillars: data and technology, journalism and community. It takes off from a mantra that has kept Rappler going in the face of attacks: in crisis, we innovate.
As Rappler CEO Maria Ressa said: “What kept us grounded was our deliberate effort to strengthen our mission of hard-hitting investigative journalism, not just to be reactive or defensive. After you embrace your fear, what’s next? You build for the future. You imagine the world as it should be, and you create.”
The goals were ambitious: We wanted a modern website that more efficiently leverages data and smart technology. We wanted a system that will usher users along a path of civic engagement.
Beyond that, learning from our research on disinformation, we wanted to provide our community with a conducive environment for constructive conversations around issues. We knew that for this to happen, such conversations will need to be grounded on verified information and real world communities.
We learned a lot since our initial build was launched and we stumbled a bit along the way.
While we were building, we formed coalitions around key advocacies: #CourageON: No Lockdown on Rights focusing on human rights, and the #PHVote coalition that promotes avenues for civic participation in the May elections. Both coalitions involve around 130 organizations from various sectors.
To address disinformation, we are collaborating with more than 100 news organizations, civil society groups, members of the academe, and legal rights groups in #FactsFirstPH, a multi-layered and multi-sectoral effort that seeks to fight lies and combat disinformation. (READ: LIST: Organizations that are part of the #FactsFirstPH initiative)
Now, with high-stakes national and local elections just around the corner, we are happy to announce that we are finally opening our platform to partner organizations who are part of these initiatives.
In the coming days, we will slowly roll out Communities of Action, the community engagement system in Lighthouse.
Introducing Lighthouse Communities of Action.
Lighthouse Communities of Action integrates Rappler’s third pillar – the communities we have worked with since Rappler was launched in 2012 – into the platform.
In over a decade, Rappler’s civic engagement arm, MovePH, has worked closely with partners in civil society, the academe, and other sectors around various initiatives and advocacies. It has also directly engaged with and trained volunteers, citizen journalists, and youth leaders on storytelling, effective and ethical use of social media, and fact-checking.
This community of partners and volunteers in turn helped Rappler survive incessant attacks online and offline.
What’s new about this is that verified communities, institutions, and partners who share the same value for facts, accuracy, accountability, and advocates for journalism and civic engagement, will be given direct access to Rappler’s audience.
Through this program, Rappler hopes to give partners not only the power to feature their own advocacies but also to bring their initiatives to the wide audience reach of a major news site.
This is Rappler’s way of giving back to partners that have helped Rappler thrive amid adversity.
Who will have access to Communities of Action?
Organizations that will benefit from Communities of Action are those that MovePH has worked with during the past years. This jumps off from the assumption that Rappler and the partner organizations are working together around shared points of values and unity, and towards social good.
In line with this, a basic requirement to participate in this community is adherence to facts and democratic values. (READ: Editorial standards and guidelines)
How can organizations be part of this?
Rappler holds its partners to the same high standards it holds itself. Particularly, MovePH works with groups and organizations that are committed to facts, are accountable, and share the same values of courage, truth, and integrity.
Organizations that are working with MovePH through our campaigns, pillars, and movements can be considered for Lighthouse Communities of Action.
Eventually, Communities of Action will help readers easily find not only content produced by our partners but also calls to action, events, and other movements as defined by communities and organizations we work with, that are relevant to these issues and topics you care about. This will enable our readers to participate in critical public policy conversations, minus the noise in the rest of cyberspace.
What does this mean for Rappler readers?
With the addition of the Communities of Action, readers will be able to access not only Rappler’s content but also the individual partners’ pages through the same Lighthouse platform.
This means readers will be able to explore different kinds of content and easily find calls to action defined by communities and organizations we work with that are relevant to the issues that our readers care about.
How will we keep this platform safe from disinformation, hate?
On Lighthouse, conversation rules are hinged on facts and evidence-based reasoning which build a shared reality; free and open dialogue where people listen and exchange ideas; and the culture of working together collaboratively and independently.
How can we take collective action on the issues that matter? We become the communities of action through this new feature of the Lighthouse platform.