Taking Awam to the communities; Media Matters for Democracy and Omar Asghar Khan Foundation initiates ‘Report Your News’ to empower local activists and thought leaders with citizen and mobile journalism skills

Media Matters for Democracy and Omar Asghar Khan Foundation initiates ‘Report Your News’ —  a series of orientation sessions — aimed at acquainting local activists and communities from Abbottabad and Mansehra with citizen and mobile journalism skills using ‘Awam’. 

The mainstream media space, especially the broadcast media, focuses largely on the news content from urban centres owing to their limited time, resources and business interests. Urban politics remains the most covered beat getting most air-time and space. This severely restricts the ability of news content related to civic issues and governance from rural areas or smaller towns to access newsrooms.

Understanding this gap between the newsroom and rural centres of Pakistan, MMFD and OAKDF have taken to introduce ‘Awam’ to the local communities of 12 pre-identified districts in Khyber Pakhtoonkwa through ‘Report Your News’, a series of orientation sessions lead by our team members.

Awam is an Android-based application combined with a web-based platform which assists in the gathering of crowd-sourced, credible news content. Build to further the concept of citizen journalism, it allows the users to report their local ‘news’ — issues that directly affect their community or other communities, bad governance, and corruption for instance — through a broadcast news-like template using the mobile phone camera, which is then hosted on an online platform www.awam.news. It allows citizens to generate video content through a user-friendly, mobile-based application with or without 3G or 4G mobile internet access.

“We feel these sessions will be extremely helpful in encouraging transparency and accountability. Local activists and civil society leaders are often the most under-represented lot in the mainstream media. We expect to change that through Awam and Report Your News’, noted Asad Baig, the founder and the director of Media Matters for Democracy.

First session under ‘Report Your News’ was held between 20th to 21st December 2017 in Abbottabad with 24 participants from Abbottabad and Mansehra districts. This session aimed to familiarise the participants with the basic concepts of citizen journalism to allow them to use it a tool to ‘report’ their own stories.

In the year 2018, a number of similar sessions are planned in pre-identified communities in the KP. Get in touch with our team members if you are interested and want us to host a similar session for you.