In this episode of the Digitally Yours Podcast, we are joined with Nouha Belaid, founder of Madha Yahduth, a civic media initiative from Tunisia.
Host: If you have ever had the chance to be in a 101 journalism class or workshop you may have heard someone saying ournalism is the first draft of history, or to be more faithful to how it was first said "News is only the first rough draft of history,”. Well a rougher draft if I may say is certainly different in this DNA age. Everyione of us just out of their pocket has way better tools than any journalists 20 years ago. And this brings us to today's topic. Civic Media. Not to stay in theory we have with us Somene who actually works on a civic media initiative on a daily basis. Without further ado, let me welcome my guest Nouha Belaid, founder of Madha Yahduth, a civic media initiative from Tunisia.
Q1: Tell us about Madha Yahduth and why have you started Madha-Yahdouth? What was your story behind it? Why did you start it in Tunisia?
N.B: Of course we had to start from Tunisia. Actually in Tunisia the media landscape is in crisis because the lack or absence of advertisement revenue like situation of Misk FM. We chose to start our media to reply to the demand by Tunisian citizens who unfortunately no longer trust mainstream media. Sp Madha Yahduth is a website where information is proviuded by citizens, checked and verified by journalists. a 100 percent participatoiry framework. Madha Yahduth is available in two languages Arabic and Frence and I hope in the future in English. So Tunisian citizens participate in informing out website visitor on current events which are taking place in their cities in particular what is happening in rural areas which cannot be covered by traditional media.
Q2: How can a citizen contribute to Madha Yahdouth? What is the process like? How not fall into the trap of misinformation?
N.B: In the absence in Tunisia of a journalistic platform with 100 percent citizens contribution apart from social media at a time when citizens seek to express themselves in official way . While the existing websites still announce that the opinion delivered by citizens do not represent the opinion of the media. So we allow xitizens to contirbute online to public debate taking into account the ethical and professional rules for journalists. So the rules of the journalist as facilitator of information not just a contributor. This will also oontribute to build the xapacities of the cotozens who dont have journalim training but who are very active in public affairs related to their local communities. With the spread of fake news we highlight contibutions of experts in the fields or questions related to political affairs or when it is related to political decision, economic phenomenas and what is important for public opinion
Q3: In our context, civic media is sometimes overlooked and even the current press code in Tunisia doesn't cover blogging and civic media. How do you see civic media fit in the local information scene? How is it different from conventional media outlets?
N.B: Madha Yahduth main mission if about (providing) information for citizens then supporting freedom of expression, participatory governance and sharing credible information. That is why the space is not limited to opinion articles. Citizens can send all types of contributions like interviiews, photos, video coverage and reports. So they can send us photos of events they organized, of actions they are cintetsting or any type of information they consider useful. The difference is that we provide at the same time training programs not for free but are supported by well known institutions like universities and associations like the international traing center. This program is composed in three levels. The first level is to introuce them to citizen journalism. The second one is to be introduced to the world of journalism and the last one is to get access to journalism school. In Tunisia, access to journalism school is easy. Arounf the worls, you have to prepare for exams and tesfs. If we want to have qyality journalism we have to hae peple trained for it. We want to work in regions not just the capital,we want to to the south of Tunisi to work with people who in the past had blogs and facebook pages and want to share information about theor communities with more people.
Q4: Why do you think it is important to have civic media initiatives started locally? and also grow locally?
N.B: Having local civic media initiatives is more than important today. We have to encourage people to express themselves freely on local topics. With the absence of a fournalistic platform in Tunisia with 100 percent citizen contribution, social media offer the opportunty for citizens to express themselves while media still announce that opinion delivered by citizens o not represent the media. We want to help citizens go outside social and get information checked before. That is why we have journalists working with citizens. Today we talk about civic media as a fifth power. Today for media it is not easy access all events. When you are talking about an attack or else, maybe the journalists is not there but the citizens is there and able to take photos and videos and shre it with the media. At Madha Yahduth, if we have informationm we want to share it with other media. They dont have to use our logo or anything.We want to develop partnersships with associations and even citizens living abroad.
Q5: What can we expect to see on Madha-Yahduth in the future
N.B: Two monthsd after the launch, we have over 100 articles published and more than 500 contribuors. We have more things to realize like presence in other countries mainly the Arab world and other regions like Africa, Europe and the US. It is a new idea.we plan to export the idea to other regions.Durirng the first five years, we hope tp train more citizen journalists in Tunisia and the region. I address all podcast auditors do not hesitate to contact us to join our trainings, communities and contribute with information on what is happening in your communities.