Documents without Borders: Beneath the Rubble

Dory Shaffer


In my first few columns exploring the intricacies of international governmental information, I focused primarily on information provided by nations with strong institutions and long established international governmental organizations (IGOs). While I briefly mentioned potential flaws in information and data related to cultural preferences and willful misleading—I stayed away from discussing finding and evaluating information from nations with weak institutions. Government information specialists are well aware of the complexity of navigating a labyrinth of bureaucratic information that varies in how accessible it is, but what happens without even the assurance of that imperfect system? Nations that are mired in ongoing conflict, corruption, or whose institutions have been threatened by financial or climate crises face unique challenges in sharing or even preserving information. This column will look at examples of these situations, and strategies for accessing information that feels as though it is buried beneath the rubble.

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