Tunisia and Google, in partnership with the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations and the World Bank Institute, have hosted a one-day bootcamp in the Tunisian capital this week for 30 journalists from North Africa to develop their online and web skills.
The aim was to promote cross-cultural understanding in reporting on news websites and blogs.
Google led the workshop, which included international experts and the African Media Initiative as participants, in an effort to boost blogging and better reporting practices in the region.
Tunisia was chosen because it was the first country to rise up and oust their former government in 2011, sparking the Arab Spring.
“We recognize that the Internet is playing an increasingly significant role for the media in North Africa as a powerful mechanism for information sharing,” said Maha Abouelenein, Head of Communications for Google in the Middle East and North Africa, in a statement published by the UN and Google.
“By empowering participants to use powerful forensic tools to find, extract, and analyse public data, they are able to tell better informed stories,” she added.
Participants shared insights and experiences, which the workshop hoped would improve regional cohesion on shared data-driven priorities.
Among the participants were journalists from new blogs that have emerged after the Tunisian revolution, such as Nawaat, journalists and editors from small to large print, online and broadcast media from all three countries, “all eager to learn how to better use online tools.”
“This training combined both a skill learning experience on sophisticated web tools in a region where youth and medias have recently played a crucial role, along with a cross cultural component by bringing journalists from different countries and backgrounds to better understand each other and, eventually, better report across cultures”, said UNAOC director Marc Scheuer.