If you have been to any protest during the course of the revolution and the past two years, you have seen them. Often juggling several actions at the same time; tweeting or live blogging with taking pictures or chanting and running when required.
Egypt’s new generation of citizen journalists have been monumental in conveying the dominant narrative on the Arab spring and have even spurred debate in academia about the importance of social media.
All are amateurs, using anything at their disposal to put together a story. This new breed of journalists has attracted the attention of Carmel Delshad, who is the programme director of the Egypt Journalism Project, aimed at providing citizen journalists with the tools and resources to becoming better at what they do.
“The project acts as a support system for citizen journalists, our programme lasts five months and we meet once a week. It includes guest trainers from all forms of journalism, like print or TV. These trainers can give valuable practical information in their specialty. We are also open to students of journalism who want a more practical approach rather than the theory-based approach they receive at school,” said Delshad.
The project officially launched on Tuesday and will meet every week in Downtown’s Mesaha, where the project rents space to host its trainings. “We focus on quality more than quantity, so right now we have about 10-15 people signed up and we had nine who were able to make it the first session. We want to make sure that if we are no longer around in six months, that we have trained people who are committed and can make a difference,” said Delshad.
The programme will progress quickly to cover everything from how to remain objective to more advanced topics and speciality trainings, “we are starting with the basics of journalism all the way to advanced topics in the coming weeks. The programme is free and in the future we hope to be able to provide better materials and resources, such as cameras and the like,” said Delshad.
The project started as an offshoot of another, shorter project during the revolution by Delshad, who wanted to move on to something more long-term, “during the revolution, the relationship between citizen journalism and major media outlets changed and it was more of a collaboration than a top-down conversation. We aim to provide these citizen journalists with the tools that they lack in the absence of a major organisation and its resources.
Many of the people selected for the project I know personally but the programme is open to everyone and the only selection process is how serious they are. All they need to do is contact us and we can take it from there,” said Delshad.
The programme has just launched and will continue for the next five months for its first round, so applicants are encouraged to contact Delshad as quickly as possible. Though other efforts to encourage citizen journalism and independent media have launched as well, with Mosireen being an example of a different kind, Delshad says this is the first to offer something that is long-term and aimed at sustainability, “the goal is to raise their skills as close to professional journalism as possible, with a focus on longevity.”