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    Training a New Generation of Citizen Journalists Around the World

    by David Sasaki
    December 18, 2007

    Just three years ago, ‘citizen journalism’ and ‘citizen media’ were unknown phrases for more than 99% of the world’s population. Slowly, but surely, a considerable movement is starting to help change that.

    Many of the Knight News Challenge winners are at the forefront of this movement. The Media Mobilizing Project of Philadelphia just recently finished their first round of video production training for a group of 20 Spanish-speaking immigrants poised to take advantage of the city’s free wi-fi cloud. Similarly, Chi-Town Daily News will recruit and train a network of 75 citizen journalists – one in each Chicago neighborhood – and MTV’s Mobile Youth Journalism project will train a “Knight Mobile Youth Journalist” in every state to create video news reports for distribution on cell phones.

    This movement to train a new generation of citizen journalists to use online tools in order to share their personal and community narratives, however, is far from limited to just the United States. In fact, some of the most innovative examples of citizen journalism training are taking place across the non-Western world. This post will take a look at some of the groups that are helping train individuals around the world to produce their own media.

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    Senegal

    Let’s start in Senegal, West Africa where this very moment Kwami Ahiabenu II and Ndesanjo Macha are leading workshops to help train new citizen journalists at the Third Regional Workshop on Medias and ICT in West Africa. I highly recommend that you give a listen to this video of Ndesanjo explaining the fundamentals of citizen journalism within an African context. Also, Kwami Ahiabenu II has put together a useful PDF document which details the basics of how to set up a blog and how to take advantage of RSS feeds.

    Egypt

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    Next we head to the Alexandria Library in Egypt where Canal France International recently organized a training course on “Women and new media” in the Arab world. The ten-day course brought 20 female journalists from across the Arab world together with new media experts from around the region and beyond. You can see a map of where the participants are based and follow along on their group blog.

    Kenya

    As Kenyan voters get ready to hit the polls in 10 days in what promises to be a hotly contested presidential race, the Africa Interactive Media Foundation has supplied four everyday Kenyans with special mobile phones and bluetooth keyboards so that they can upload their mobile reporting to Voices of Africa.

    Cambodia

    Cambodia’s violent civil war left a large percentage of its population disabled. This Wednesday, with the support of Cambodia’s National Centre of Disabled Persons, Heng Phan will lead a workshop on how to blog for people with disabilities in Cambodia. He’ll be using the excellent documentation produced by Chantra Be on how to set up a WordPress blog in Khmer.

    South Korea

    It is South Korea, perhaps, that takes the prize when it comes to citizen journalism training. The popular citizen journalism website, OhmyNews, has opened a citizen journalism school some 90 minutes south of the capital, Seoul. According to a post on their site, the school accommodates 100 students simultaneously with “in-school lodging and dining capacity for 50 guests, complete with broadband Internet access and blanket Wi-Fi coverage … The education program will include journalism 101 classes for citizen reporters, writing workshops for new citizen reporters, and digital camera class customized for photo journalism and video news gathering.”

    Bangladesh, Bolivia, Colombia, India, and Sierra Leone

    And then, of course, there are the five projects of Rising Voices which are all teaching the tools and techniques of citizen media to marginalized communities in Dhaka, El Alto, Medellín, Kolkata, and Freetown. Just yesterday afternoon I was in the neighborhood of Comuna 13 in Medellín, Colombia to witness the extraordinary work of the HiperBarrio project. Comuna 13 is an area of the city known for its violent past. But the participants of HiperBarrio want the rest of their city and the rest of their world to know that there is more to their neighborhood than drugdealers and paramilitaries. They have collected a large amount of photographs and texts about their neighborhood and the fruits of their labor are already starting to show. In the coming weeks we’ll have more English translations of HiperBarrio content on the Rising Voices website along with other features from the rest of the projects.

    Tagged: citizen journalism disabled international training workshops
    • This is a fantastic project. I think there are interesting ways that we could connect the stories that come out of Rising Voices to MMP’s project. At the least we will have trained immigrants from both Colombia and Sierra Leone and I could foresee interesting way to address transnational immigration by looking at stories that take place across the different diaspora or connecting people through these stories across the diasporas. We are thinking about creating 2 interactive maps for our project, one which links the stories of people back to their home countries and the other which links the communities to their particular part of Philadelphia.

    • I think that establishing some links between our two projects is a fantastic idea. We are still at the early stages – just a few months in – but once we’ve established a sense of community within Rising Voices, I think it definitely makes sense to encourage some exchanges between MMP and RV. I’m looking forward to hearing more as the Media Mobilizing Project progresses.

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