More than 70 journalists from across Tunisia have benefitted from media training delivered by IWPR in a range of disciplines, developing the skills they need to highlight important public issues as their country moves forward from the revolution of 2011.
As well as providing detailed technical training, the IWPR sessions also opened up opportunities to work within a national network of activists, bloggers and reporters. Network participants will contribute news, analysis and opinion pieces on the political transition to a new website called Jadal.
Two international journalism trainers ran a four-day session in March in the coastal city of Gabès, attended by 25 journalists from three southern regions. Reporters covered stories on a rail strike and on the tourist industry.
Afef Ouedrani, a journalism graduate and presenter on Radio Ulysse in Djerba, said the training had sharpened her news sense and her ability to verify information.
“It had a positive impact on the first stages of my journalistic journey,” she said. “The academic training that journalists get at the [official] Institute for Press and Information Sciences is not enough to sharpen their journalistic skills.”
Imen Benhamed, a music student and radio presenter in the southern city of Tataouine, reported on the proliferation of cafes in Gabès during training. She said the session helped her understand how a social issue can be turned into an engaging feature story.
The participants created a special page on the social networking site Facebook where they can post stories and information from their regions.
An additional training session took place in the capital Tunis in May, in which reporters covered events including a demonstration on Habib Bourguiba Avenue, the city’s main thoroughfare.
Fathia Saidi, a journalism graduate from the northern city of Kairouan, said the training had encouraged her to travel into the countryside near her home, and then post reports of local developments on Facebook.
“The practical aspect of the session was very important,” she said.
The two sessions followed a training workshop in February on transitional justice and efforts to address abuses of power under the previous regime and during the uprising which began in December 2010.
IWPR and the National Syndicate of Tunisian Journalists organised the session jointly, bringing together 30 bloggers, journalists and activists from across the capital.
Amateur video blogging is increasingly popular in Tunisia, and in early April 20 bloggers and web activists attended IWPR’s office in Tunis for four days of training on script writing, video skills and editing. The training was held in collaboration with Tunisia Live, and participants worked in groups to produce video reports on issues including freedom of expression and child labour.
“Group work gave me the opportunity to discover my strengths and develop the skills I lacked,” Rim Thabti, a participant from Gabès, said.
Marouan Outhamna, from the southern town of Medenine, said he was pleased to have been put in touch with other bloggers.
“Meeting other activists from different regions was an opportunity to start new initiatives. One of these is a collective blog for many activists in the south that will serve as a shared news platform,” he said.
As well as filing reports for Jadal.tn, video journalists and bloggers will also be contributing to Tunisia Talks, a YouTube channel developed by Tunisia Live.
IWPR’s Tunisian Programme aims to support the role of traditional and new media in the transition to democracy by developing journalists’ skills, improving media coverage, and promoting engagement in debate.