Amplifying the voices of youth on topics related to peacebuilding and reconciliation is key to creating a strong and unified national identity in Iraq. In December 2020, UNDP Iraq launched a citizen journalism project to encourage and build the capacity of 120 young Iraqi journalists, bloggers, and social media activists. Focusing on topics such as conflict-sensitive reporting and hate speech, Tammuz Organization for Social Development and Sabaq Center for Media Development facilitated sessions tailored to the participants. The “Diversity” (or “Tanawo3” in Arabic) web platform was recently launched to share their stories, photographs and videos related to peacebuilding and community cohesion in Iraq.

Saif, 29, a media student from Najaf Governorate, shares his story.

 

Since childhood, my ambition was to be a professional and independent journalist, conveying the truth without falsehoods.

I started learning how to write in this style by reporting local events in Najaf, eventually expanding to radio, television, and social networking sites. I’m currently studying radio and television.

 

Over the past few months, I participated in the training workshop on citizen journalism and social cohesion supported by UNDP. During the workshop, I networked with young women and men from different governorates across Iraq who are specialized in media, including bloggers and social media activists. The training I received helped to develop my skills in photography, and encouraged me to produce media materials, including nine video stories within just one month. I also learned about writing short press stories and how to sequence and produce stories to spread a message. I produced four photojournalism stories for the Diversity Media Platform, which is unique to Iraq and provides a platform for media students and journalists. I believe that citizen journalism has a great role in building peace, especially if stories reach all Iraqis. Journalism can play a strong role in educating society if it is directed away from specific political agendas and sectarianism. For the time being, I plan to write peacebuilding articles, in-depth stories on peaceful coexistence and the rejection of violence and hate speech and continue my ongoing research on resources for citizen journalism. I will focus on these topics during my master’s studies and I plan to set up a home studio to shoot videos and teach my peers how to create photojournalism stories about their communities.

The citizen journalism training project is made possible thanks to generous support from the Government of Denmark, as part of UNDP Iraq’s Integrated Reconciliation Project.

Visit the Diversity web platform to view Said’s work and stay updated on: FacebookYouTube, Telegram and Instagram.

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