Dar Si Hmad for Development, Education and Culture is an independent nonprofit organization founded in 2010 promoting local culture and sustainable initiatives through education and the integration of scientific ingenuity in Southwest Morocco. We operate North Africa's largest fog harvesting project, providing villages with access to potable water. Our Water School and Girls' E-Learning Programs build capacity in the Anti-Atlas Mountains. Through our Ethnographic Field School, researchers and students engage with local communities in Agadir, Sidi Ifni, and the rural Aït Baamrane region for meaningful cross-cultural exchange.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

RISE Citizen Journalism 2019: The Two First Weeks

Written by our intern Ms. Katie Tyler 

Risers during the workshops
With the rise of social media, we live in a world where citizens have more power than ever to share information and news. Citizens are now able to share their observations and thoughts with more people than has ever been possible before. Citizen journalism will become even more important in the future, as we need more voices from everyday people to speak out against environmental injustices that tend to affect marginalized communities disproportionately.
For the past decade Dar Si Hmad has been committed to empowering young people and protecting the environment of southern Morocco. Creating a new edition of RISE that specifically focused on citizen journalism and environmental justice seemed like the most effective way to meet both of these goals.
Our vision for this new edition of RISE is to equip young leaders in Agadir with the skills to effectively share stories and information both within their local communities and on a national and international platform as citizen journalists. We have recently wrapped up our first two sessions with our new class of RISERs! 
During our orientation session, we got to know our RISE participants and discuss our hopes and goals for this workshop series. We played a lot of different games to learn each other’s names and get to know about our interests and aspirations. For one game, we passed around a roll of toilet paper and instructed RISERs to “take as much as they needed.” When we finished passing around the roll, we told them that they had to tell the group one fact about themselves for each piece of toilet paper they took!
Besides spending time getting to know each other, we spent time on building a new community of dedicated citizen journalists. We wrote a constitution for the rules that would shape our RISE community and agreed to uphold this social contract. We made goals for our involvement and left with a clearer vision of the kinds of citizen journalists we wanted to become.
During the second week of programming, we focused on journalistic ethics. Using the guidelines from the Society of Professional Journalists as a model for our curriculum, we explored the different facets of ethics in journalism. Because Dar Si Hmad believes that students learn more if they are involved in activities and must think for themselves, we included many interactive activities. 
We had one activity where participants read real-life news articles and had to use their critical reading skills to investigate whether the articles were fake news or real headlines. We also encouraged participants to work together on teams. For our session on minimizing harm as journalists, we presented groups with different ethical scenarios in which they had to decide whether to grant interview subjects anonymity, and if so, how they would take measures to protect their subjects’ identities.
Of course, we made time for fun games so that we could continue to bond as a group! We created a BINGO sheet where each square had a characteristic or attribute (such as: “Never had a cavity” “Has three siblings” “Plays soccer”). Participants were instructed to find different RISERs who could sign the different squares that contained an attribute that described him or herself. Whoever could find enough RISERs who fit the different descriptions so that their BINGO sheet had a complete signature in a horizontal, diagonal, or vertical line would win!
As a facilitator I also learned a lot from these RISE sessions. All the participants have very thoughtful perspectives on the value and uses of citizen journalism and have articulate visions for how they want to create change in their communities. I am very excited to continue working with our RISE participants on honing their skills as journalists. They already have so many exciting stories to share, so I can’t wait to sharpen their storytelling abilities and work with them to investigate new stories to spread! 

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