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Developing Citizen Journalists in the Arab region

Developing Citizen Journalists in the Arab Region is a two-year project funded by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the Swedish International Development and Cooperation Agency (SIDA). Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultual Research (BCMCR) staff from the Media For Social Change and Interactive Cultures research groups, work in partnership with the US-based technology company Meedan on the delivery of the project.

Meedan is a not-for-profit technology company, based in the USA, whose mission is to create better understanding between the peoples of the Arab Region and the West through online dialogue. The company take their name from the Arabic word for a 'town square' or 'gathering place', and its Meedan.net digital town square, allows users to share conversation and links about world events with speakers outside their language community. Everything that is posted, is mirrored in Arabic and English.

This particular project works with citizens in Tunisia, Egypt and Jordan, and with Syrian citizens in Lebanon, to help citizen journalists become trusted sources. It builds on our existing SIDA-funded initiative in Egypt, which aims to improve media plurality in the country through technological intervention and training.

Both projects will contribute to strengthening democratic media in the following ways:

  • Helping people to sort fact from rumour
  • Enable citizens to make informed political choices
  • Provide citizens with the knowledge required to hold their governments to account.

Professor Tim Wall, leader of the Birmingham City University project team, says:

"It's a daunting challenge to work in countries undergoing major political and social change - but given the role of social media in the Arab Spring there is a real opportunity to share our expertise in online journalism and social media. Our work will empower citizens to use social media technology to collaboratively report and verify news stories, and fact-check political statements."

The Interactive Cultures research group has established significant expertise in citizen journalism, social media and media for social change. Projects in the research centre are making notable contributions to social change, and the school's MA and PhD programmes recruit students from across the world to study in these areas of growing importance.

To discover more about the Developing Citizen Journalists in the Arab Region project or about the Interactive Cultures and Media For Social Change research teams, please visit the BCMCR website.

This particular project works with citizens in Tunisia, Egypt and Jordan, and with Syrian citizens in Lebanon, to help citizen journalists become trusted sources.