freelance news correspondent, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Challenge: Empower journalists to tackle online hate speech in Myanmar through approaches that also preserve free speech.
Aela Callan understands both the positive and negative impacts of social media in a developing democracy. Her work as a foreign correspondent in Southeast Asia took her to Myanmar (Burma) where she witnessed the country’s remarkable political transition away from dictatorship. Disturbed by a rising tide of hate speech in the newly free media, Callan used her fellowship to build a bridge between Myanmar and Silicon Valley, helping creators of new media to respond to the unintended consequences of greater connectivity. She discovered that even robust democracies have a long way to go in tackling online hate speech, and believes Myanmar’s experience balancing freedom of speech in the digital age can enlighten the rest of the world. Callan’s mission as a media innovator and leader is rooted in the belief that great storytelling can change lives in forgotten corners of the globe. She is now using the skills she acquired at Stanford, including user-centered design, to lead digital strategy for Al Jazeera’s 101 East program, helping journalists find and interact with a rapidly growing audience of mobile-first news consumers across Asia.
A project to collect evidence of hate speech that catalyzes violence, to raise awareness and help journalists to shape new narratives.
In this short talk, Aela Callan describes the dangerous hate speech in Myanmar's newly free media and her work to help address it, while protecting free speech.
Growing up an inquisitive child in Western Australia, Aela resolved to cross the oceans that isolated her from the world and become a foreign correspondent. She began appearing on Al Jazeera English in 2008 and since then has only rarely unpacked her suitcase, reporting from Hong Kong, Bangkok, Cambodia, Japan and Myanmar, the country for which her heart beats. Callan’s 2013 documentary “It’s A Man’s World” on Al Jazeera’s 101 East program earned her a Gold UNDPI Award at the New York Festivals Film and Television Awards. She was also the recipient of a Walkley award for excellence in Australian journalism, when as a young TV reporter at channel 7 in Sydney she tenaciously chased a political cover up.
Information on this page is from the fellowship year.