Media portals improve access to reporting jobs, info. on rights

To celebrate World Press Freedom Day, Birzeit University’s Media Department and Taghyeer Social Media Initiative launched on May 3, 2017 two online platforms, “Birzeit Online” and “You Know.” In attendance were the Minister of Education and Higher Education Sabri Saidam, Birzeit University president Abdullatif Abuhijleh, and the dean of the Faculty of Arts Majdi Malki.

“Birzeit Online” is a website that reflects critical issues facing Palestinian youth through feature stories, articles, and reports written by the students of the Department of Media.

Saidam saluted the university’s efforts in encouraging its students and alumni in excellence and innovation.

“This distinguished initiative created by one of our graduates indicates our success in advocating for lasting institutional change and creating opportunities for students to engage with innovation, entrepreneurship, design thinking and creativity,” President Abuhijleh said.

This initiative is happening at the same time as the world’s celebration of freedom of press, the president indicated. “Freedom of speech, accountability, and democracy are key components for any individual or a society to grow and prosper.”

Head of the Media Department Juman Qunais said that the platform seeks to reduce the obstacles that face fresh graduates, especially their lack of experience in the professional world. “The idea of the platform is to train students on marketing and public relations. Our graduates will then be responsible for the platform’s operation by writing and publishing news articles and reports.”

Qunais announced that the university is looking forward to cooperating with other Palestinian universities on the portals, as well as Arab and international higher education institutions.

The website offers a full four-year journey, including both theoretical and practical arenas, starting from writing and editing news and moving to writing feature stories and broadcasting.

Fellows in the initiative may advocate for lasting institutional change and create opportunities for students to engage with innovation, entrepreneurship, design thinking and creativity at their schools. Fellows design innovation spaces, start entrepreneurship organizations, host experiential learning events and work with faculty to develop new courses.

The other portal launched emphasizes citizen and reporter rights. Birzeit University Media Department Graduate Saed Karazon, a social media trainer, won  $50,000  from the King Abdallah II Award for Youth Innovation and Achievement (KAAYIA) for designing an interdisciplinary, interactive panel to make youth-led social change. Karazon presented his ideas in a mobile application "You Know" that focuses on the right of the citizen, particularly the Palestinian journalist, to access information and knowledge.

He also presented a number of ideas and interactive platforms to raise awareness on the importance of having democratic processes, free speech and the need for accountability  in the public sphere.

 “Palestinian youth and Arabs must assume their roles as active citizens,” Karzoun said.

“Through my project I offered innovative tools and methods to enhance the culture of transparency, accountability, and the right to access information by promoting freedom of expression online, and therefore, a culture of change-making and accountability among youth.”

The King Abdullah II Award for Youth Innovation and Achievement aims to celebrate and support youth throughout the Arab region who have pioneered innovative solutions to urgent social, economic and environmental challenges.

Freedom Day is focused on why it is vital to strengthen free and quality journalism to enable the media to effectively contribute to the achievement of Social Development Goal 16.