Rethinking Arab Citizen Media as an open-access platform for media activists & verification enthusiasts

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Welcome to our brand new Arab Citizen Media!

This website is the result of a collaboration that started in 2011 with technology partner Meedan and partner organisations in Egypt, Syria, Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan with the aim of training citizen journalists to report critically on issues relating to democracy, governance and human rights in their countries. At a time when the Arab region is undergoing major transition, it is important citizens are able to take part in public debates and hold their governments to account, if we were to hope for a better and somewhat brighter future for the entire Arab region.

You might be wondering why a Birmingham-based research centre wants to work on a new media project that involves citizen journalists, online media activists and professional journalists in the Arab region?

Well, here’s why:

In a region deeply shaken by conflict and government sponsored propaganda, it has become vital to journalists, media activists and transparency advocates to understand practices of evidence-based journalism in order to be efficient voices of dissent. We believe that digital media provides a unique opportunity to increase the accountability of governments, to strengthen civil society and to challenge rising authoritarianism. We therefore see our involvement in the Checkdesk project as an inherent part of our role as media researchers and educators, especially as we work on developing our ‘Media for Social Change’ research theme within the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research.

Over the course of the last four years, our Arab-region partners have:

  • Recruited and trained 2000+ activists and citizen journalists on issues related to media literacy, internet safety, social media verification, online journalism, and advocacy media, etc.
  • Five iterations of Checkdesk, Meedan’s online verification platform, were also created in partnership with Al-Ayyam in Syria, Welad el-Balad in Egypt, 7iber in Jordan, Ma’an in Palestine and SMEX in Lebanon, allowing citizen journalists to report and verify news stories in times of political turmoil.


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Version 2 of

So, what should you expect to find on this site?

Arab Citizen Media is designed as an expanded program of training to support resource-strapped journalists, grassroots news makers and transparency activists to accurately and critically report the news, to promote best practice and to share knowledge in a constantly evolving new media environment.

You’ll find here a set of open-access videos, tutorials, powerpoint presentations, screencasts and podcasts that will allow you to consolidate your new media skills and enable you to continue learning while drawing others into the learning process with you. In the next few months, we’ll be working on developing our learning resources into more structured online courses. We first want to know how useful these resources are, and get a better sense of how you will interact with the platform before we finalise an end-of-course evaluation framework. So let us know your thoughts on our first ‘Fact-Checking for the Web’ set, and keep an eye out for the next batch of resources on ‘Writing for the Web’.

Finally – and this is a call for action – we’re working really hard to make all resources available in both Arabic and English, but we’re not there yet. Please drop us a line if you’d like to get involved with the translation and/or development of new resources.

We hope you like it, and most importantly, we hope you find it useful!