Thursday, May 30, 2013
Educating journalists in a turbulent country like Egypt sure is quite a challenge. While the Nile-country is going through the aftermath of the Egyptian revolution, the independent media-center Al Sawt Al Hurr is organizing workshops for journalism students. 'Because of the tremendous political tensions, reporters are often inclined to pick a side. We are training students to become independent journalists instead', says Ranya Khalifa, coordinator of the training-program.

Hatespeech vs independent journalism
Al Sawt Al Hurrs works to establish an independent media landscape in Egypt. Essential, since 'there is no independent newspaper left in Egypt', says Khalifa. During the workshops reporters learn how independent journalism works and what strategies they can use to avoid hate speech. In addition, the workshops include sessions about 'legal awareness', as journalists are regularly being arrested in Egypt. Through these trainings, young journalists learn how they can protect themselves in court. Khalifa: 'Besides, experience has shown that the odds of an independent journalist being arrested are significantly lower than one using hate speech.'

Revolution and Internet
But there is much more to these workshops. Al Sawt Al Hurr sees an enormous potential for online journalism in Egypt. During workshops students get acquainted with new media. Khalifa: 'With multimedia for instance - journalists can appeal to a wider audience - varying from urban youth to illiterate farmers.' Internet used to be censured under Mubarak's rule. After the revolution, Internet has been opened up completely. 'Journalists are feeling they can finally speak out. Our workshops have become much more popular than before the revolution. This is an amazing development. We have even expanded our activities to live up to the growing demand', says Petrus Schothorst, director of Al Sawt Al Hurr.

But, there is a school for journalism, right?
'We think the school for journalism in Egypt does not live up to international standards. With our renewed workshops - we believe that we can offer reporters a solid basis - to become professional journalists in a young democracy like Egypt', says Schothorst. Having commenced in April, the first group of 19 journalists completed the workshop series on May 2. The second group has already started.