Waiting for the New 2012 Year, we want to present one amazing new citizen journalism project from Tunisia. This is Speak Out Tunisia – citizen journalism training project and of which will tell us all Khalil Ghorbal, co-founder of the Tunisian PaCTE.
Tunisian PaCTE,(Pacte des Compétences Tunisiennes Engagées), is a citizen project formed immediately after the revolution to bring together Tunisians and supporters to help build a better Tunisia. Speak Out Tunisia was created, in large part, by Tunisian PaCTE. In the days following the revolution, thousands of Tunisians living, working and studying around the world joined Tunisian PaCTE, bringing the total number of supporters to more than 6500 members and counting.
NewsMeBack is very proud to present our Interview with Khalil Ghorbal and we want to thank specially to Anne Medley – a photojournalist and videographer who launched in 2010 a multimedia education project called “Congo in Focus” and who helped us make this interview happen.
Khalil Ghorbal is a PhD in computer science and a Telecommunications engineer. His ultimate goal is to help create understanding in the world. He believes that the human resource (the only “natural” resource really available in Tunisia) is sufficient to improve people’s everyday lives by ensuring dignity, equality and hope for everyone.
A: Speak Out Tunisia is a citizen journalism training project that aims to teach a diverse group of Tunisian citizens about digital media and online journalism. After 23 years of oppression without a free press under Dictator Ben Ali, Speak Out Tunisia seeks to return the power of a free and fair press to the Tunisian people. We will be training two groups of citizens– one beginner group and one advanced group – for four weeks in the capital city of Tunis and a rural location in Tunisia.
Q: What initiated you to start this project?
A: Citizen journalism has been a major part of the revolution since the beginning of the uprising. However, right after the revolution, it became really hard to distinguish real news from fake stories among the thousands of videos and photos on the Internet. To help organize and improve the quality of the media and to help build the public’s trust in reported stories, we came up with the idea to build the first ever citizen journalism network in Tunisia to feed our already existing online TV. Around the same time, we met Anne Medley, a photojournalist and videographer from the United States, who successfully led a similar multimedia education project “Congo in Focus” in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2010.
Q: Who gave you biggest support for launching Speak Out Tunisia?
A: Our supporters are Tunisians and people who support freedom of speech around the world. Speak Out Tunisia is still in the fundraising stage of our campaign to collect the needed money for the project take place this March, so wherever you are, you can still help make this happen! We’ve received incredible coverage from many famous bloggers, local and international media and citizen journalists around the world.
Q: What is the position of citizen journalism in Tunisia and have Arab Spring events had a positive or negative impact on citizen journalism in Tunisia?
A: Let me put it this way – the Arab Spring is a direct result of citizen journalism! During the past year, every citizen suddenly became a local reporter. Thousands of photos, videos, blogs and articles have been uploaded daily and widely shared through social networks throughout all of the Arab revolutions. Citizen journalism has even influenced classical media. Journalists now closely watch online social media networks for news and information. In Tunisia, many ministries have even started their own Facebook pages.
Q: Tell us something about Speak Out Tunisia rewards.
A: Tunisian people are incredibly generous and gracious, particularly toward those who help them! Our rewards are in line with this giving spirit; they are full of love and gratitude. Depending on the amount pledged to our campaign, we offer our donors gifts ranging from a heartfelt thank you note, Tunisian souvenirs (wool scarves, traditional slippers, hot spices, etc.), a photograph of the revolution by award-winning Tunisian photographer Hamideddine Bouali and/ or exclusive links to the videos our future students and trainees produce, just to name a few. The more you pledge, the more you get rewarded! We even offer an exclusive invitation to the closing conference and VIP cocktail party with the directors of the project in Tunis at the end of April combined with two nights in a charming traditional hotel in Tunis.
Q: Do you believe that proper workshops and training are enough to educate any citizen to report as well as professional journalists and how do you see relationship between traditional and citizen journalism?
A: We believe that training workshops like Speak Out Tunisia are a good way to start educating people and improving the quality and journalistic integrity of videos and photos shared on the Internet. Citizen journalism acts as an alternative platform to professional journalism; a place for minorities and underrepresented groups to speak out and express their needs and concerns. It also provides a forum for the people to improve their everyday lives through open communication. Of course, citizen journalists need to continue to improve their skills through practice and mentoring by professional, ethical journalists in the field. Through Speak Out Tunisia, we hope to offer the right multimedia tools to our future students to enable them to report on their communities and then pass their skills on to trainees in the future.
Q: What is your experience regarding citizen journalists and their credibility since some traditional media deeply doubt in it?
A: Obviously, one of the main concerns surrounding citizen journalism is the integrity of its content. Photos and video can be manipulated; events can be staged. How can the public know that what they find on Facebook or YouTube is accurate and true? We believe that by educating our trainees in journalism ethics as well as practical multimedia skills, we can begin to build a network of citizen journalists whom the public can come to rely on for fair and balanced coverage.
Q: What do you expect from Speak Out Tunisia and what are your plans for the future?
A: We expect a lot! As mentioned earlier, we expect to build the first citizen journalism network in Tunisia to feed our online TV. Once established, this first corps of reporters will spread their knowledge through other organized workshops. We hope to give them the necessary multimedia skills and journalism ethics to tell the world their stories, the stories of their families, their cities and the minorities they encompass.
To donate to Speak Out Tunisia, go to Kickstarter