This is the 'hut' that I stayed in for the first part of the week I was in Swaziland. It really was an experience. I remember, bleary eyed at 4.30am wondering if any more 'party size' bugs would drop on my head. My colleauges hadn't been bothered with the small army of many legged and sometimes winged creatures that appeared to be very sociable.
I was chatting a little earlier on Skype to Chris Vallance and vocalised to him quite an important point I'd not really appreciated until now. Podcasting is a wonderful tool, it's a great laugh, great fun.... but... oddly, in this setting something was very different. I felt a huge weight on wanting to convey the touch, smell, feel, texture and downright seriousness of Swaziland. I felt a real burden upon me to really do the interviews justice - I was so fired up and enthused by the hope that simply shone out from what appeared to be such a desperate situation - I wanted to convey that emotion without exaggeration, editing or being in any way patronising. One listener commented on the fact he felt that there was so much to listen to he could appreciate where I was coming from and didn't feel as though my interviewees had been edited (actually he's dead right - they hadn't).
I think podcasting conveys an honesty - a real grass roots journalism that you don't get in the world of polished sound byte radio presentation - sure, you don't get the professional quality all the time, hopefully however you get the spirit and the heart of it. I would hate to convey Swaziland in 2.5 minutes, how do you do that? What about the stories of the children? What about Don, Emma and Kevin? These people are heroes, they should not suffer from the editors knife, we want to hear them! (podcast 88 if you haven't heard it)
The feedback that I've had from the podcasts have been amazing - including a Mbabane expat who now lives in Australia. The message seems to have hit home - and for that reason I can honestly say that the entire trip was worth it...however... more to come on the results of the trip over the coming months.
So, podcasting - a great hobby, a wonderful pastime and a seriously amazing citizen journal tool. What an awesome responsibility this thing is with the right message....