• Citizen Journalism

  • What happens if we give news subjects the tools to share their own stories?

    We launched the pilot citizen journalism course in September 2017 with a simple goal: 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 their own 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, types of stories, story 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.


    Four students received graduation certificates from our fall 2017 pilot. One student, reporting out of Eastern Ghouta, 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 published an in-depth profile of a Syrian artist that she wrote during the course 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.

  • How It Works



    Using our English program participants and social media, we recruit women and men ages 18-30 who have advanced English and little to no reporting experience.



    The class meets online twice a week for 12 weeks using video conferencing, co-taught by a Syrian and an American. The first half of the semester is focused on the theories, values, and purposes of journalism, and the second half is focused on hard skills, guest speakers, and original reporting.



    Students write at least three original articles about their communities that demonstrate their understanding of the course content, both theoretical and practical.



    Each of our students is assigned a one-on-one peer mentor who supports them through the story-writing process.



    We work with partners like Global Student Square, an international youth journalism network, to publish our students’ stories and get their unique perspectives out into the world.

  • Why Citizen Journalism?

    When displaced people have the tools to share their stories, they can challenge stereotypes and generalizations head-on. This is needed more than ever, as a growing number of academic and organizational studies are finding that coverage of the global refugee crisis is lacking in nuance and can even be harmful to displaced people. 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.”

  • Tangible Takeaways

    Students leave the course with writing clips that can help them as they apply to schools, internships, and jobs in a variety of fields. Graduates receive a certificate from Paper Airplanes that also includes an endorsement of the journalism curriculum from the faculty of the School of Journalism at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts.

  • Olga*

    "I liked the human interaction ... in this online course. This gives you a sense of achievement. Discussions encourage you to learn more and compete with others. Unlike man[y] online courses, this human interaction factor in this course made things a lot easier for me, made me continue till the end, and provided the opportunity to meet great people."

    *Name changed to protect the student's identity


    "The whole experience in this course was great, but the most thing I found it brilliant was the people in this course. Especially the instructors and the guest speakers, it was really effective way to meet some of the brilliant journalists and they were very friendly and professional. The second most effective thing was the assignments. It lets us apply and practice our knowledge and not limited to theoretical information."


    "Now I see journalism in a totally different way. The process of writing a news story with all the consideration of ethics, freedom of press, sources' right to decline interviews and public's right to know ... made me look at news in a more critical yet grateful way. This industry can change the life of many people for the better or the worse, and for this reason it must be done very carefully."

    *Name changed to protect the students identity

  • We had over 300 applications for 10 spots in our pilot course.

    Help us grow!

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