Tools for modern-day storytellers: social media for Liberia’s aspiring journalists

In an effort to bring technology to a growing community of Liberian journalists, iLab recently offered a course exploring online collaborative platforms. This course, Social Media for Social Change, is one of iLab’s ongoing and most popular courses that, in this case, was customized for 14 members of the Journalists for Human Rights Liberia Student Chapter. This training introduces platforms for easily publishing articles, document storage and virtual collaboration among Liberia’s aspiring journalists.

Cross-section of participants

In our interactions with iLab users, we’ve found that most people spend their online time using Facebook and emailing; very few are taking advantage of other information sharing tools. For this reason, we highlighted the following tools for our classroom of journalists:

  • TumblrFor journalists weve met at iLab, the most important function of a website is to share their stories, images and create a body of work for others to see. Blogging tools like WordPress, while useful, focus more on the sites design whereas our users are seeking to upload content quickly and easily. Tumblrs features make it clear and simple how to upload a variety of content with a unique, preset theme.

 

  • Google Plus This social platform is an alternative to Facebook that, in the Liberian context, is more often used for professional collaboration via Hangouts or simultaneous editing of a shared document. iLab users find it engaging and also a productive tool for group work and info sharing outside of the lab.

 

  • Participants receive certificates at the end

    TwitterAs I always say,a journalist without a Twitter account is half-informed.Even in a setting like Liberia where slow connection speeds make it difficult to use Twitter, it is undoubtedly the fastest way to share ones own work and to stay abreast with events both within Liberia and around the world. Even if Liberian journalists only get to use Twitter periodically depending on their internet connection, it is critical for them to have a voice in the Twittersphere where Liberians are under-represented. With the ACE fiber-optic cable recently landed in-country and soon to be distributed, Liberia will soon have access to high-speed internet and these journalists will be ready to take advantage of tools like Twitter right away.

 

We’re excited to Hangout, Tweet and Tumble with these talented storytellers; here are a couple of all-stars to follow: @flozeezee, @AlVarneyRogers. In our efforts to support aspiring and professional journalists, we welcome suggestions about online and offline platforms/tools that you have found useful. Please share with us so we can continue growing Liberia’s online community of storytellers.

Via iLab, Liberian Journalist Presents at New York Film Festival on Global Human Rights

Tetee Gebro is a Liberian Journalist reporting for New Narratives and working with SkyFm, a local radio station here in Monrovia.

 

Recently, Tetee reported on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) on her radio show. This report brought about a huge outcry in Liberia among both the traditional people and human rights activists with diverse opinions on the topic.

 

Because of her coverage, Tetee was asked to appear on a panel at New York Film Festival on Global Human Rights. This was a glorious opportunity for Tetee and Liberia’s entire journalism community.

 

In order to participate in the panel, Tetee was to appear virtually via Internet, but because of Liberia’s lacking telecommunication infrastructure and slow Internet connection, it appeared almost impossible for this opportunity to become a reality.

 

As Tetee’s organizers tried to find a place with reliable internet service and an evironment that could afford her to appear by video over Skype, iLab Liberia was the only public resource center in Liberia that could provide Tetee with the resources to participate in the panel discussion.

We were immediately contacted and as usual, we invited Tetee and her local organizers to a meeting to understand the nature of the event and to ensure that all Tetee could required to make this event possible could be available..

 

 

iLab prepared a computer running Skype and a projector with and adequate bandwidth just sufficient to ensure uninterrupted video and voice transmissions. With the help of iLab, Tetee was able to successfully attend and presented at the Firm Festival. See more about Tetee’s presentation at the Film Festival here.

 

iLab is the only technology hub in Liberia that offers free technological opportunities that could not otherwise be found in this country. With the lab’s popularity spreading, we are moving to a larger space this month so we can better accommodate users’ needs and interests. We are always looking for potential funders who would like to see Tetee and other Liberians given the resources that iLab has to offer; contact us if you would like to contribute to iLab’s future and that of Liberia!

 

Thanks

 

Carter

Social Media Training for Journalists

Today iLab Liberia wrapped up a training for Liberian human rights journalists in social media. The training started on December 8th and finished today. There was one session each day that lasted for two hours. Fifteen journalists from both print and electronic media institutions participated in this training. The social media training covered blogging, particularly Tumblr and Twitter. Some principles of using social media were also discussed, such as including tags in a blog, mentioning your blog or post in a tweet and styles of writing posts as a journalist.

 

During the training all of the journalists started tumblr and twitters accounts. For example Ms. Tecee Boley started http://teceeboley.tumblr.com/, Mr. Sam Zota started http://samzota.tumblr.com/, and Mr. Oniel Bestman started http://onielbestman.tumblr.com/. At the training we were told by the journalists that many of their stories are not heard due to the lack of space in the dailies to publish them. The Journalists saw the training as a new tool through which their untold stories could be heard, seen and read.

 

After this training, iLab Liberia confirmed that there is a great need for such training for Liberian journalists, and as such iLab Liberia plans to host another social media training soon. Please check back later.
Here are some photos from the event.
Luther D. Jeke
Training Director
*iLab_ Liberia