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October 30, 2017

Citizen journalism training helps youth tell a different story


October 30, 2017

There aren’t many opportunities available for youth hailing from underprivileged neighbourhoods of this sprawling metropolis to bring the government’s focus to their areas or to portray a positive image of their localities.

These educated and highly-motivated youth are eager to highlight civic issues their communities are facing – poor infrastructure, lack of education, health facilities and the government’s inattention towards sports facilities. They want to dispel the stereotypes associated with their localities and they want to tell positive stories, but they lack the skills to harness the growing power of social media as a reporting tool to do so.

To address these needs, the Society for International Education (SIE), a Karachi-based civil society organisation, launched a Citizen Journalism training programme for youth from underprivileged and underreported areas of Karachi to teach them reporting and news-writing as well as photo and video journalism.

Around 200 young people between the ages of 18 and 25, selected from coastal communities of Ibrahim Hyderi and Mauripur, Lyari neighbourhoods Khadda Memon and Agra Taj Colony, Pashtun-neighbourhoods Sultanabad and Hijrat Colony as well as Saeedabad, Sakhi Hasan and Rafah-e-Aam Society have been receiving the training over the course of the past few weeks at Movenpick Hotel.

The young women and men, who were selected through a thorough in-person interviewing process during which the SIE teams visited the neighbourhoods, come to the trainings every Sunday with a list of issues they want to highlight through journalism as well as several story ideas ranging from civic issues to interfaith harmony in small communities to lack of resources and government inattention in their areas.

The participants learned news writing, journalism ethics, how to cover communities and using social media, photos and videos for citizen journalism from several experienced journalists, including Geo TV’s Wajid Ali Syed, The News’ Zia Ur Rehman as well as writer Farahnaz Zahidi and photographers Athar Khan and Ayesha Mir.

Among the keynote speakers were urban planner Arif Hasan, IBA CEJ Director Kamal Siddiqi, Nida Kirmani, architect and activist Marvi Mazhar and Haya Fatima Iqbal, an Academy Award winning documentary filmmaker.  

Imran Noshad Khan, a young participant from Hijrat Colony, said that the training session helped him learn how to craft news and use social media to highlight the issues of his locality. “In this sprawling city, journalists cannot be everywhere at once and therefore we as the citizen journalists cover local events on the ground,” Khan said.

A female participant from Lyari said she wanted to write to dispel the negative image of her locality. “In the media, Lyari only makes headlines for gang warfare. But we want to show the world that our neighbourhood is famous for football, women’s boxing and cultural activities,” she said.

The participants are expected to submit stories, photos and videos based on the ideas they have been pitching in the training sessions. Their work will be published in a newsletter which will be compiled after the trainings end, said SIE’s Saad Rabbani.

The final training session concluded this past Sunday where veteran urban planner and activist Arif Hasan addressed the participants and explained to them how the city had evolved over the decades and stressed on the need for community journalism.

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