Giving People Tools to Share Their Own Stories
Why Citizen Journalism?
When impacted and displaced people have the tools to share their stories, they can challenge generalizations and the status quo of reporting head-on. As a growing number of academic and organizational studies are finding that coverage of the global refugee crisis is lacking in nuance, or can even be harmful to those impacted, authentic journalism is needed more than ever. A comprehensive global report by the Ethical Journalism Network in 2017 found that “much of the media coverage of migration reflects political bias and is superficial, simplistic and often ill-informed”.
This is why we launched the pilot citizen journalism course in September 2017, with a simple goal: to provide the tools necessary for Syrian citizens to publish their own stories.
Working in collaboration with the faculty of the School of Journalism at Northeastern University, our team crafted an original curriculum tailored to work with citizen journalists in the Middle East region. The curriculum focuses on the foundations of a journalism education, including journalism ethics, international freedom of the press, story types, planning and interviewing. Students are required to write at least three full stories and complete additional course homework, after which they are granted graduation certificates.
We had 300+ applications for 10 spots in our pilot course!
Students leave the course with writing clips that can be added to their journalistic portfolios as they apply to schools, internships and jobs in a variety of fields. Program graduates receive a certificate from Paper Airplanes, that also includes an endorsement of its journalism curriculum from the faculty of the School of Journalism at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
Four students received graduation certificates from our Fall 2017 pilot program. One student, reporting out of Eastern Ghouta in Syria, published a feature about the lack of cancer care in Ghouta and, after graduating from the course, has contributed to international coverage of the violence in Eastern Ghouta in outlets including The New York Times. Another student wrote an in-depth profile of a Syrian artist during the course and it was published on Global Student Square (GSS), a news organization devoted to elevating the voices of student journalists. We've partnered with GSS to continue publishing our students' work.