JTP helps North African bloggers, activists blossom in Rabat Workshop

Eighteen North African bloggers gathered in Rabat in February 2010 for a workshop on constructive and effective writing, notably about conflicts, and on upgrading their social media skills, despite censorship problems and various technical constraints in the Maghreb region.

Journalism Training Program director Magda Abu-Fadil co-conducted the training sponsored by Washington-based NGO Search for Common Ground (SFCG) with sessions on the evolution of blogging and online media ethics.

The bloggers and activists from Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia put their newly-acquired knowledge and ideas to the test, with Naoufel Chaara writing that the workshop had surpassed his expectations.

“Admittedly, I was wrong. The SFCG training (http://www.sfcg.org/sfcg/sfcg_home.html) didn’t match my pre-set idea about workshops and conferences where we suffer from boring speakers and doze off,” he said. “Today, a lot of things will change.:The dynamic nature of the workshop allowed the bloggers to learn, interact, take pictures, shoot video, and post content as they discussed what they can and cannot do in their respective countries.

Morocco enjoys relatively more cyber freedom than its neighbors, followed by Algeria. On the other hand, Tunisia maintains a stranglehold on access to social media vehicles.The workshop was made possible by Leena El-Ali, director of SFCG’s Partners in Humanity program that works to positively affect how individuals and groups in the West and the Muslim world think and feel about cross-cultural issues.

Moroccan journalist/blogger Rachid Jankari, director of MIT Media (www.mit.media.com) and publisher of www.maroc-it.ma, kept the charged pace going, introducing participants to the latest in cyber offerings and tutoring them on how to master the use of various Web tools.

Also on hand was Mohamed Daadaoui, assistant professor of Political Science at Oklahoma City University whose Maghreb Blog http://maghreblog.blogspot.com/ focuses on politics, economic trends, and news of the Maghreb region.