My 10 years of Meedan

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By Tom Trewinnard

(This post was originally written for Meedan’s blog, currently hosted on Medium here)


Some of the wonderful Meedanis at our team retreat in Potugal, October 2019

A little over ten years ago, after graduating from university, I moved to Cairo. I knew then that the move would be an adventure, but little did I know at the time that the true adventure would not be my moving to one of the world’s great cities. The week after I boarded my flight — a week after Obama gave his first international speech at Cairo University — my adventure with Meedan began.

Since I first joined Meedan — as a beta user of their pioneering bilingual news site (News.Meedan) — I have worn many hats: content producer, managing editor, program manager, business development manager, director of programs. Over these ten years the organization has grown from being a small community of translators and reporters focused on creating unique content, to a fully fledged technology company creating world-class tools that support a global community of journalists, fact checkers, human rights defenders, and researchers tackling some of the most pressing issues of our time — issues central to democracy, accountability and transparency.

Amidst this transformation there have been several constants: the values, at the heart of Meedan, of openness, empathy and strength in diversity; a community of colleagues, partners and collaborators who live these values through their work and through their interactions with one another and the world; a nuanced vision for the internet as a space for productive cross-lingual, interdisciplinary, reflective, impactful collaboration.

These three constants are underpinned and upheld by a fourth: Ed Bice.

Ed is a brilliant mind, a true visionary, and a leader who inspires not only through his creativity and ideas, but through the unique care and support with which he treats his colleagues and friends. There are no words adequate enough to express the gratitude I have for everything Ed has given me and taught me over these ten years. I could never have imagined that when I started my adventure with Meedan it would present me with such a richness of opportunity to consistently learn from and work with an array of thoughtful, critical, driven people, led by Ed — led not from above, but from below, always lifting up those around him and pushing them to greater heights.

After ten truly wonderful years, and with Meedan as an organization the strongest it has been in its history, I have decided that the time has come to challenge myself in a new way.

Ed is, of course, supported by an amazing supporting cast — and here I’d like to personally say an enormous and multilingual thank you/obrigado/شكرا/gracias to An, Karim, Dima, Wafaa, Chris, Noha, Caio, Alexandre, Daniela, Nat, Meg, Isabella, Shalini, Scott, Kat, ARK, Uva, Hamza, Ahmed, Anas, and all the other Meedanis past and present. It’s truly an amazing team who are well-placed to drive important change in the world over the coming years.

Over the past three years, working closely with Pop-Up Newsroom co-founder Fergus Bell, I have had the opportunity to engage with my journalistic roots and take on complex and compelling editorial challenges, from covering elections in real-time through the lens of voters’ posting to social media, to massive collaborations seeking to preserve the public’s ability to access credible, fact-based information.

Fergus and I have now decided the time is right to form a new organization — Fathm — whose mission is to work with newsrooms, organizations and technology companies to creatively address the emergent editorial opportunities and challenges presented by new modes of newsgathering, reporting, audience engagement, publishing, and distribution.

As Pop-Up Newsroom, our close partnership and work with Meedan will continue and, we hope, expand — with Meedan leading on the design and creation of collaborative technologies, and Fathm leading partnership building and editorial strategy with newsroom partners.

I’m immensely proud of all that Meedan has achieved over the past decade, and extremely excited both to watch their evolution and to start my next great adventure.