Speak out Tunisia is a citizen journalism training project which is set to be launched to run for four weeks in March of 2012. Le PaCTE Tunisien, the Tunisian association behind the project, started a virtual fund-raising campaign last Friday, December 16th, using kickstarter.com, the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects. The project will only be launched, however, if fundraising reaches an amount of $19,000.
Citizen journalism is not new to Tunisia; it started as early as 2003 and then during the former regime’s crackdown on local phosphate mine workers. Throughout the regime crackdown, several protesters fell and the then-pressured and biased media failed to adequately cover the events. Locals cut-off from the rest of Tunisia had only social media available to them to share news, pictures, and videos of the atrocities and oppression that they were enduring. Consequently, Facebook was shortly shut down during the fall of 2008.
Throughout the popular uprisings that took place in Tunisia during December of 2010 and January of 2011, as well, Facebook and other social media sites played a large role in sharing images and videos taken by local citizens depicting the government’s crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators. Facebook events provided time and location information for citizens to rally together in all regions of Tunisia. Amateur videos and pictures were broadcast worldwide on popular television news channels. Social media further served to cover the revolution when other media was lacking, as internet users updated their Facebook, Twitter, and Flicker accounts by the second. Furthermore, the social media ‘revolution’ served as inspiration for other Arab countries witnessing similar popular uprisings in the following months. Thus, citizen media became an influential and informative source of media coverage in the region.
Le PaCTE Tunisien – the Tunisian Pact of Committed Tunisian Competences – is a team of Tunisian volunteers based domestically and internationally. A group of Tunisians from different professions and places created on January 15th 2011, just one day after the overthrow of Tunisia’s former president Ben Ali, who had ruled the country for 23 years. The association’s mission is to support freedom of information in Tunisia and to promote democracy, social justice, and equality among Tunisians from all regions. The association is not politically affiliated, although it aims to raise discussions and debates about the current political issues of the county.
“Speak Out Tunisia will allow each region in Tunisia to have a number of citizen journalists who will be the voice of their communities. They will report, film, interview and write about their own local region,” says Sami Ben Hessine, one of the founding members of le PaCTE Tunisien.
Should the project receive enough funding to be launched, Speak out Tunisia‘s trainings will be composed of two teams: a Beginner team and an Advanced team. Recruited students will take part in workshops on a variety of subjects, such as field reporting, photographing, video editing, and writing. The training will mainly take place in the Tunis metropolitan area. Anne Bailey Medley, an experienced photo-journalist and videographer, will lead the trainings. Medley is known for initiating another similar citizen journalism workshop which took place last year in the Democratic Republic of Congo. ”The project is all about maintaining the momentum that the people of Tunisia started by continuing to allow them through citizen journalism and mobile media training,” Anne Medley. I strongly believe that the strength of a democracy lies in the strength of a free and fair press,” she then added. The goal with Speak Out Tunisia is beginning to build a network of educated and ethical multimedia journalists across Tunisia who can continue to report on events in their own communities and build a free and fair press in the process”
NB: people who want to give to the project but don’t have an international credit card can do so here: http://pactetunisien.com/speak/#promesse
You can ask more information at email@example.com or visit pactetunisien.com.