Crowdsourcing the Voices of Young People and Civil Society in Lebanon

This Entry has been submitted.

Crowdsourcing the Voices of Young People and Civil Society in Lebanon

Lebanon
Organization type: 
for profit
Budget: 
$100,000 - $250,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Interactive platform aggregating civil society/youth voices, led by a voluntary editorial board, hosted in AltCity shared space.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Nearly all media outlets in Lebanon are politicized and function in a very closed manner. We have an active civil society (there are 7,000 registered non-profit organizations in Lebanon, according to al-akhbar.com newspaper, June 3, 2011) but their news and views are disparate and frequently get lost. The community is increasingly tech and media-savvy but everyone is posting their content in different places. The voices of civil society need not only to be heard but to be aggregated, curated and filtered in one place. During two years of creating, publishing, and managing Hibr Lubnani, a youth-run, social-impact monthly newspaper (25,000 copies freely distributed around Lebanon), we faced various challenges. Young people had some significant core problems coming up with creative and new story ideas to write about. Critical thinking was also a point of weakness for the majority of the contributors. In addition, we faced various incidents of plagiarism along the way.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

We will create an open, online, community media platform built on open-source and crowdsourced technologies. Contributions from civil society groups and activists will be curated and amplified. Content from key citizen journalists and bloggers will be crowdsourced. Importantly, building on our previous experience, we will train citizen journalists on reporting, critical thinking, basic writing skills, journalistic ethics, and producing multimedia content. We will develop a whole program that will be rolling and ongoing over a certain period of time. We aim to make this training program as web-based as possible in order to increase accessibility, interactivity, and sustainability. An elected editorial board will oversee and guide the process of curating, editing and publishing the content. Housed in AltCity, a collaborative social impact space and media/tech cafe in central Beirut, the platform will be able to tap into an existing community of activists and youth, engaging them both as writers and readers. All contributors will be actively engaged in social change and highly incentivized to produce good quality content.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

The model of the platform is designed to work as a collaborative umbrella that will give the opportunity to any activist to share his/her story, upload his/her news and access other reports published by his/her fellow citizens. Bringing these stories together in one place will make the voices of the community stronger; having one, larger, shared audience will motivate activists, campaigners and bloggers to seek to publish their work on the platform, thus gaining greater exposure for their activities. This shared platform will open the door to greater communication, discussion and collaboration between activists working in different fields - and leverage greater impact on the ground. The uniqueness of this project lies in the youth-led editorial board elected from the community and the training component that focuses on core skills and behaviors that are not taught and encouraged in the vast majority of the educational institutions such as independent thinking, critical thinking, basic writing skills, and journalistic ethics.
Sustainability

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Currently, there are several groups working on developing content, aggregating content, and crowd-sourcing platforms. However, many online forums only focus on the crowd-sourcing element such as: forum.tayyar.org, sawtakonline.com, Jaridtak.com, shoufimafi.com, Vcoders.org, etc. This project will work on combining crowd-sourcing, editing, and training. In addition, as the voice of youth/civil society, it will be 100% independent and non-sectarian. The challenges these other forums could pose, however, are the momentum and credibility they have already built, in addition to how fast they access and publish the news since they already have a community of reporters working with them.
About You
Organization:
DevIneMedia
About You
First Name

Maya

Last Name

Rahal

About Your Organization
Organization Name

DevIneMedia

Organization Country
Country where this project is creating social impact
How long has your organization been operating?

1‐5 years

The information you provide here will be used to fill in any parts of your profile that have been left blank, such as interests, organization information, and website. No contact information will be made public. Please uncheck here if you do not want this to happen..

Innovation
Select the stage that best applies to your solution

Growth (your pilot is up and running, and starting to expand)

How long have you been in operation?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Social Impact
FOUNDING STORY: We want to hear about your “Aha!” moment. Share the story of where and when the founder(s) saw this solution’s potential to change the world.

Once upon a time (2008), in a land far away (a few blocks from our current office), co-founders Dima Saber and Munir Nabti were getting increasingly frustrated by severe shortcomings in Lebanon's education system and media environment. With an election half a year away, they decided to bring together their related interests of media literacy education and alternative media production to launch a youth-powered mass alternative media initiative built into an intensive training and skill development program.

Dima, a media studies doctoral student, was concerned by the lack of critical thinking and media literacy education in Lebanon's schools. She wanted to develop a fun, practical, and applied way to get young people thinking about bias, propoganda, and cultural messages embedded in the media.

Munir, a social entrepreneur and freelance journalist, wanted to build a youth-powered mass alternative media outlet that would give young people and civil society in Lebanon a strong voice without the filter of traditional mainstream media outlets in Lebanon.

It all started with a simple request: “Dima, just tell me your basic idea in 1 page or less. We can build things from there.”

Specify both the depth and scale of your solution’s social impact to date

As a totally independent, innovative, and youth-led alternative media outlet in Lebanon, Hibr Lubnani has been working closely over the last two years, with around 150 contributors to foster their strong sense of community engagement, critical thinking, and independent content creation.

We have trained more than 500 young people in citizen journalism skills, including basic writing, online and social media, and information and media literacy. Many of our trainees have become socially active bloggers including Assad Thebian (www.beirutiyat.wordpress.com) and Alaa Chehayeb (www.einshtein.wordpress.com). Alaa describes the Hibr workshops as "a life-changing experience".

We have played an active role in many civil society and media initiatives such as TEDxRamallah, for which we trained 10 Palestinian youths in reporting and social media, resulting in extensive coverage on multiple platforms. We have also trained youth reporters from the Ministry of Social Affairs and no2at3al7ourouf (a regional newsletter funded by IWPR, led by youth).

What is your projected impact within the next 1-5 years? Is your idea replicable? If so, how?

We aim to change the way people consume, relate to, and create media content in Lebanon, and beyond. Having become central to citizens’ on- and offline worlds, it will be a self-sustaining, online and mobile media platform that plays an increasingly important role in Lebanese civil society. After reaching sustainability with this project in Lebanon, we are keen to develop partnerships with people and groups in nearby countries, and to work with them to establish a branch initiative within their own countries that would be part of the expanding network of collaborating civil society media outlets in the region.

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and mark growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact

To reach 3,000 readers per day; to receive contributions from 10 individual/groups to be published daily.

Six-Month Tasks
Task 1

Launch a highly interactive, user-friendly and engaging Web 2.0 platform supporting multimedia content

Task 2

Elect an editorial board led by youth and guided by more experienced journalists to monitor the content and engage the community

Task 3

Provide intensive training for 30 volunteer citizen journalists on multimedia content production, critical thinking & more

Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone

To reach 6,000 readers per day; to receive contributions from 20 individual/groups to be published daily.

12-Month Tasks
Task 1

Partner with 20 universities, schools & NGOs, providing training & media production assistance, & exchanging content

Task 2

Establish an advertising & marketing strategy based on social media tools and social networking to promote the platform

Task 3

Organize 3-4 media-related competitions encouraging the community to get more involved in media production

How many people have been impacted by your project?

101 - 1,000

How many people could be impacted by your project in the next three years?

1001‐10,000

Sustainability
Explain how your company, program, service or product is structured

Business

What barriers have hindered the success of your project to date? How do you plan to overcome these and other challenges as you grow your solution?

Needing to fund a staff of 10 persons, the cost of printing monthly 25,000 copies of a 24-page newspaper, and funding online/offline promotions in order to gain exposure thus more readers/ contributors, was quite a challenge that we couldn't pull off. By choosing to focus on one online platform, we save on the cost of printing. By crowdsourcing the content, the editing, and the fact-checking, we reduce the staff costs. By basing ourselves in a public cafe, we reduce the overhead costs of maintaining an office, and win the exposure and publicity we need.

How do you see the information-technology and media sectors shifting over the next decade? How will your solution adapt to and/or drive that changing environment?

Web and mobile media are converging while becoming more interactive and focused on multimedia. Media content continues to proliferate with the need for curation, aggregation, and filtering of content becoming increasingly apparent. We will stay abreast of these developments, especially in mobile technologies and apps, adapting and incorporating such changes. Tapping into content that is already produced, crowd-sourcing talent, while being an open and accessible newsroom for all, available both online and offline, may be the solution!

Failure is not always an option. If your solution fails to gain traction in the next two years, what other applications of the idea could you explore?

Considering the need in Lebanon’s civil society for such a crowd-sourcing platform and given the fast development of smartphone technology we would consider turning the platform into an interactive mobile application providing news from the Lebanese civil society and allowing users to contribute and directly publish their stories.

Expand on your selections, explaining how you will sustain funding

By having diversified revenue streams and reduced costs, the project will ensure its financial sustainability. Being led by a voluntary, elected editorial board, while being housed within the AltCity social enterprise space, Hibr staff and running costs will be kept to a minimum. In addition, optimizing the advertising revenues will cover technical costs enabling the project to be financially self-reliant. Also, we will increasingly improve and seek new sponsorships which will provide our project with unique opportunities for worthwhile financial assistance.

Hosting events is another revenue stream that could be very beneficial for us. Hosting these events in AltCity will not only boost our revenues but also increase the traffic to our site, and attract advertisers.

Tell us about your partnerships

Over 2 years, Hibr partnered with many international and local NGOs, civil society organizations, initiatives and schools, including:
- IFES (International Foundation for Electoral Systems)
- IWPR (Institute of War & Peace Reporting)/No2atAl7ourouf
- Relief International
- OTI Lebanon
- Search for Common Ground
- NAVTSS (National Association for Vocational Training & Social Services)
- IT Association in Tripoli
- TEDxRamallah
- The American Universal School
- Notre-Dame de la Charité in the Bekaa
- German School in Beirut

What type of team (staff, volunteers, etc.) will ensure that you achieve the growth milestones identified in the Social Impact section?

The project will be led by a voluntary editorial board, who will be responsible for curating, editing, and managing all content submitted. This board will comprise both experienced and young enthusiastic talented citizen journalists. An IT expert will be part of the staff to ensure any technical problem is taken care of at all times. Volunteer writers, photographers, designers and video makers will create and publish the content, following intensive training by the editorial board.

Changemakers is a collaborative and supportive space. Please specify any community resources you would need to grow and sustain your initiative. Select all that apply

Investment, Human resources or talent, Collaboration or networking, Pro-bono help (legal, financial, etc.), Mentorship.

Specify any resources you might offer to support other initiatives. Select all that apply

Marketing or media, Collaboration or networking.

Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren’t specified within the list
Summary
Define your company, program, service or product in 1-2 short sentences

An online community media platform that trains young citizen journalists and crowdsources civil society news in Lebanon.