In many parts of the Middle East and North Africa, the Arab Spring has led citizens to re-examine their relationship with their government, as well as their ability to access information about its activities. A new generation of young journalists, bloggers and cyber-activists are using technology—particularly social media—to demand transparency and accountability from their governments and political representatives.
Around the region, USAID is helping empower these emerging voices by training them in multimedia journalism. Since 2011, nearly 250 youth from nine countries have participated in the Building a Digital Gateway to Better Lives program. The program, which closes in March 2014, includes online training in journalism skills, seed funding for promising projects, and a study tour to the United States for leading regional journalists.
Participants use technology and social media for projects exploring issues such as illegal factories in Egypt, dangers for journalists in Gaza, medical malpractice in Jordan, police abuses in Lebanon, and corruption in a food rationing system in Iraq.
Ali Ghamloush, a journalist and blogger from Lebanon, used the training to develop his project “Zinzana,” which profiles the treatment of prisoners in Lebanon. Ghamloush was selected for the U.S. study tour in March 2012, where he met with American media counterparts and took part in one of America’s leading annual multimedia and digital creativity events, the South by Southwest Interactive Festival.
“All I can say at the end is—what a journey I have been through, what an experience I have had, what great people I have met,” said Ghamloush. “It is not a journey. It is an inspiration.”
Activists and bloggers have played a critical role in determining the outcome of the Arab Awakening. By empowering young people to better tell their story, USAID is helping promote transparency and accountability around the region.
Last updated: March 17, 2014