Online Freedom of Expression, Blogging and Social Media

© AMIN Network
Blogging and Social Media training

Internet, blogs, social networks, mobile and other information and communication technologies have expanded the ways in which people around the world can seek, receive and impart information. They have impacted on democracy, civic engagement and social change, and perhaps nowhere has this been clearer than in the Arab world. Blogs and social media have in some cases become the only way for individuals to disseminate key information on what is happening on the ground, including human rights abuses, for example. These tools have also shown to be powerful advocacy platforms, and enablers of social and political participation of youth, women and marginalized groups. Along with technological advances, however, have also emerged new risks for freedom of expression, privacy and personal safety.

Thousands of bloggers and journalists across the West Bank and Gaza understand the power of Blogs and social networks like Twitter and Facebook, but access to quality training and learning materials in regards to these new communication platforms is rare. In this context, UNESCO supported AMIN Media Network in the implementation of workshops on blogging and citizen journalism in various regions across the West Bank and Gaza, to promote freedom of expression and enhance democracy through increased public discussion, communication between decision makers, communities and individuals. These activities were implemented with The United Nations Democracy Fund UNDEF and International Programme for the Development of Communication  IPDC funding. Partners and trainees included journalists, universities, women and youth organizations, refugee camp committees, rural communities and public officials.

The trainings equipped participants with knowledge and practical skills on blogging and citizen journalism techniques such as video, photography, audio, print and other social media tools. Covering theoretical aspects but emphasizing practical learning --for instance on how to blog safely, run a blogging advocacy campaigns, cross-post and integrate online activities-- the workshops also sought to familiarize participants with experiences from other countries, particularly in the Arab world. A handbook on blogging and another on citizen journalism were produced in Arabic. AMIN implemented training workshops on radio and TV talk shows on topics of concern to the Palestinian community, and facilitated their production and broadcast. AMIN also launched a blog portal, assisted in the creation of blogs, facilitated discussion forums and organized videoconference meetings between Gaza and West Bank bloggers.

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