Al Jazeera Kiswahili and Pawa254 are organizing wonderful and much needed Sauti project, aiming to promote citizen journalism in East Africa. For three months, that’s how long Sauti will last, citizens will receive basic training, learn how to use Internet, social media and new technologies for covering the news. And of course what being a citizen journalist and reporter means. Important to add is that entire project is on a voluntary basis. More about this truly valuable project you will find in the following text.
We offer you our interview with David Mutua, Community Manager at Pawa254 :
Q: Present us the Sauti Project.
A: Sauti project is a programme by Al Jazeera Kiswahili and Pawa254 to train and empower citizen journalists in the region with an aim of encouraging them to tell the stories of their community that are important to them but may have been sidelined by the mainstream media.
Q: Tell us more about the name – Sauti, what is the meaning.
A: Sauti is a Swahili word for voice. We hope that the name will be an inspirational point for the journalists to enable them have a voice and tell their story.
Q: What is your goal?
A: The goal of the project is to empower the citizen journalists to always be aware and be ready to tell their story.
Q: Who is your partner in Sauti Project?
A: Sauti Project is a collaboration between Al Jazeera Kiswahili and Pawa254
Q: Is this the first citizen journalism project that Pawa254 is organizing?
A: Yes, this is the first citizen journalism training program that Pawa254 is organizing and we are hoping to do many more. Through our masterclasses and master talks, we seek to empower not only journalists but also freelance photographers and videographers to learn more about the industries they are in.
Q: In general, are there numerous citizen journalism workshops throughout Africa?
A: There are a couple citizen journalism projects undertaken by different media houses and information networks.
Q: Considering the increased presence of Internet, mobile phones and digitalization itself, do you manage to improve media and information system in East Africa today?
A: With the increase in modes of disseminating news, this has really worked to the advantage of citizen journalists as they are now able to show case their content to a large audience. The increased internet presence ensures that now citizen journalists can have a platform to show their work raw without mainstream media influences.
Q: Do traditional media accept citizen media in East Africa?
A: Some do but most will not unless it is exclusive content.
Q: How citizens of East Africa react to new media such as social media and Citizen journalism, are they happy to accept them or with caution?
A: Social media is big in East Africa especially in Kenya where many times Kenyans have set worldwide trending topics on Twitter. Social media enables citizen journalists to inform their followers of new stories. Social media also, sometimes, breaks news before it even reaches mainstream media. This has many times served as a point of information for many and as such, citizen journalists have an opportunity to break news with solid facts fast.
Q: Are you satisfied with the results of training?
A: The training is still on going. After the first training we now await for the trained journalists to start submitting stories, from the stories, then we are able to communicate back to them and advice them on ways they can improve on them. This second phase will be more targeted and assist the individual citizen journalist and we hope form this then a new crop of high quality citizen journalist.
Q: Do you plan to spread Sauti Project throughout Africa in the future?
A: Right now its on a pilot phase of three months to see the extent, reach and impact that it will have but plans are there to strengthen and consolidate it in East Africa.
Q: How do you see citizen journalism future in East Africa?
A: Citizen journalism will grow and strengthen in East Africa and become an alternative source of information by the community.