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04.08.2016 - UNESCO Office in Doha

"BTelephony": Reporting with mobile phones to enhance access to information in Yemen

A Yemeni journalist participating in the BTelephony workshop gets hands-on experience in the field reporting stories using his mobile phone in Sana’a, Yemen ©UNESCO

Reporting in a conflict zone comes with additional risks for any journalists reporting from the frontline. In Yemen, the safety of journalists has been highly affected by the ongoing crisis the country is facing. Journalists have been directly targeted for conducting their work or carrying reporting equipment. To enable journalists to continue reporting information to the public while guaranteeing their safety, UNESCO and La Saqf Media organised a workshop in Sana'a entitled "Btelephony" to train 11 young journalists on using ICTs, particularly mobile phones, to enhance access to information in war-torn Yemen.

New advancements in ICTs provide significant opportunities for journalists to work remotely, efficiently, and safely. The security situation in Yemen creates extra challenges for journalists. By enhancing reporters’ knowledge and skills, external risks can be reduced and mitigated and can positively reflect on the quality and content of their reporting.

“The training was diverse, we benefited from the different exercises, and I am very excited to start filming stories after the workshop, especially because using phones are safer and easier than video cameras,” said Waleed Alturki, one of the journalists who attended the training.

The objective of the BTelephony workshop, which means “With My Telephone” in Arabic, is to enable young journalists working for various media outlets to highlight positive stories and to provide them with a safer and innovative platform of communication to report information and voice the aspirations, concerns and stories of communities in crisis.

“I learnt how to use my phone to shoot and record reports, and this is something that encouraged me to buy a smartphone in order to do my work, I learnt the basics of editing, and it was a great experience to produce my first ever video. As for digital security, I also learnt how to protect my personal information and data,” said Rasheed Al Mulaiki, one of the workshop’s participants. Younis Alselmi, who also took part in the training added that “the practical hand-on training gave me confidence, and now I know that I can go down to the field and produce a story with high-quality content using my phone.”

The five-day workshop developed the capacities of six male and five female Yemeni journalists working in Sana'a in improving their safety while on the field by using smartphones to shoot and edit videos and was complemented by hands-on practical exercises in the field in addition to a one-day training on digital security to ensure that journalists also know how to protect their data and use ICTs safely.

Anna Paolini, Director of UNESCO Office for the GCC and Yemen, said that “despite the hardship and difficult circumstances, it is extremely important to continue to provide young Yemeni journalists with the opportunity to tell positive stories of coexistence and dialogue about Yemen to the rest of the world”. “We need to support the few remaining voices who stand to promote freedom of expression, especially at a time when access to information for journalists and the public is limited,” she added.

Sara AlZawqari, Project Manager of La Saqf Media explains that “the project focuses on two main aspects: first, enabling young Yemeni talents to cover stories using new technology for safer reporting on the ground; and second, focusing on positive stories from the community because people in Yemen need hope and positivity at this time more than ever.”

Btelephony is a video platform that showcases positive stories from the Yemeni community shot by young videographers using smart phones. The project started with the support of International Media Support and focuses on enabling talented Yemenis, including bloggers, activists and journalists, to tell interesting stories by providing them with tools and practical training in mobile filming.

La Saqf Media is a youth-led media initiative that strives to deliver innovative media solutions through working with talented Yemenis on projects using new media, technology, and social media platforms and that strives to empower the youth in Yemen.

The workshop was implemented as part of an Action Plan to Support Yemeni Media in Promoting Peace and Dialogue which was agreed upon at an experts meeting between Yemeni journalists and international NGOs in February 2016, during which developing alternative media platforms was identified as one of the top priorities to develop the Yemeni media landscape in the present context of war.

The training was organized with the support of the Government of Finland as part of the project “Promoting Freedom of Expression in Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen”.

More photos of the workshop can be found here

A video documenting the workshop will soon be available on our Youtube Channel.

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