Reporters In Oppressive Countries Are Using Spotify to Leak Their Censored Stories

Reporters Without Borders has a new use for uploading music on Spotify.  Yet, has it knowingly put journalists’ lives in danger?

Need a way to leak a story that a government would otherwise suppress?  Why not turn your article into a song and then upload it into a streaming music platform like Spotify?  That’s what one global organization has done.

Using a loophole in oppressive countries’ laws, The Uncensored Playlist allows journalists to spread censored news stories.  Spearheaded by Reporters Without Borders Germany, the playlist project focuses primarily on censored media landscapes.  This includes places where freedom of speech and journalists remain under constant attack, including China, Egypt, Thailand, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.

While these countries continually suppress news stories, they’ve made streaming music platforms freely available.

Creative Agency DDB Germany and digital production company MediaMonks have worked with Reporters Without Borders on the project.  For months, they’ve helped independent journalists and local musicians transform their censored articles into pop songs.  Music composer Lucas Mayer and film director Iris Fuzaro helped rewrite and produce the tracks with the help of local musicians.  They also filmed the entire process.

Speaking on the ambitious project, Bianca Dordea, DDB Berlin’s Managing Director, said in a statement,

“More than a fundraising or awareness effort, we’re happy to have landed on a unique way—music as a Trojan Horse, of sorts — to allow these censored stories to reach the world.”

Writers involved in the project included exiled Chinese journalist Chang Ping, Vietnamese blogger Bui Thanh Hieu, and Uzbekistan’s Galima Bukharbaeva.  Members of the Thai network for free journalism, Prachatai, and Cairo’s Basma Abdel Aziz also participated.

Reporters Without Borders Germany has made The Uncensored Playlist available on multiple streaming music platforms worldwide.  The tracks, recorded in English and in the local language, use aliases to protect journalists’ names.  It also features neutral album artwork and alternative song titles designed to work around censorship.

Clearly not worried about oppressive governments banning the playlist altogether, Victor Knaap, MediaMonk’s CEO, said,

When we heard DDB Berlin’s idea to use music and digital technology as a unique way of sharing the truth, we didn’t hesitate a second to help make it happen.  We’re humbled to be supporting acclaimed journalists share their stories far and wide, and we hope this is just the beginning of digital borders opening up.  With Uncensored Playlist we’re going back to the very roots of storytelling!

You can stream The Uncensored Playlist on Deezer, Apple Music, or on Spotify.  That is, until oppressive governments forcibly close the loophole.  Or, arrest the journalists Reporters Without Borders has knowingly publicized online.


Featured image by Reporters Without Borders Germany.

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