Oren Yakobovich

Ashoka Fellow
United Kingdom,
Fellow Since 2014


This profile was prepared when Oren Yakobovich was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2014.
The New Idea
Oren Yakobovich is exposing human rights abuses in remote areas, bringing justice to victims who would otherwise remain unheard, and distributing trusted information in order to prevent perpetrators from acting with impunity. Through Videre, Oren is building networks of local human rights activists proactively capturing human rights abuses on video, allowing patterns of abuse and violence to be detected. Videre then distributes footage to the most relevant stakeholders in order to bring about change. Oren applies his methodology to areas where traditional media can’t or won’t go, combining the rigor of traditional journalism with the efficiency of new media technology. Videre is building a unique and powerful media type, which sits between citizen journalism on the one hand, where information flows are unregulated, and therefore often of low impact, and traditional media on the other hand, which is controlled by outsiders who have limited and biased information of real conditions on the ground. By putting cutting edge technology into the hands of those who can benefit most from its use – oppressed communities and minorities in remote areas – Oren is creating a trusted communication channel bridging to decision-makers and other stakeholders to affect lasting change.

Although a range of NGOs encourage citizen journalism, the footage they produce is reactive and scattered, lacking the strength to truly change abusive practices. Oren’s innovation lies in building constant, grassroots monitoring networks of local activists, who proactively gather unique insights and information. Videre’s work is grounded on the principle of constant 2-way communication. Videre partners with local citizens, existing community activists and trusted NGOs, to build anonymized and sometimes undercover networks of local human rights defenders who have constant first-hand access to people and situations on the ground. Videre provides them with training, support and continuous feedback, and equips them with cutting edge technology. Where human rights activists previously took great risks to their personal safety, Oren is putting security first, providing extensive training, data encryption and counter-surveillance techniques.

Unlike human rights documentaries and campaign groups whose “shock factor” footage fails to create systemic change, Oren’s strategy achieves specific, measurable outcomes, including decreasing election manipulation, political intimidation and violence against women. In order to choose which areas and issues to focus on, Videre has developed a process for rigorous research involving continuous dialogue with local activists and in-depth understanding of the geo-political environment. Once the relevant footage is gathered, Videre then acts as a strategic curator to distribute this on-the-ground information most effectively. Videre never compromises on the verification of their material, using only raw footage and involving local peer networks to translate, analyze and verify all videos. Known for being scrupulous about verification and authenticity has secured Videre’s place as a trusted source of information for the highest levels of decision-making and the media, with distribution to over one hundred media outlets in 2013 alone, including content on the BBC and CNN as well as national media outlets reaching local communities directly. Oren’s mission, however, is not simply to affect media coverage but to revolutionize the flow of information to every key decision-maker. Accordingly, Oren has built relationships to a range of distribution channels, from local civil society and radio to policy-makers, international media, NGOs and the courts. To date, Videre have trained over 500 local activists in four African countries and aims to expand their unique method internationally. Ultimately, Oren is cultivating vital information flows between communities who are overlooked, and the power-holders who can affect preventative, long-term change in protecting human rights.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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