Development of interactive television programme to strengthen freedom of expression
The media environment in Egypt was characterised by severe repression under the former ruling president, Hosni Mubarak. In terms of press freedom for example, Egypt was ranked 130th out of 196 countries globally by Freedom House in their Freedom of the Press 2010 Report. Despite the fall of the regime following the January 25th uprising, a lack of freedom of expression remains in force today. Traditional media as well as citizen journalism have played an important role in setting the stage for change in the country. In the upcoming period, and in the context of the transition towards democracy, Egyptian media has an increased responsibility to raise awareness on political, social and cultural issues of Egyptian society, in recognition of individuals’ right to freedom of expression. The wide notion of journalism has been reconsidered in Egypt, with the widespread use of non-professional footage by traditional channels such as Al Jazeera and the fast development of citizen blogs and websites to report on the recent events. It is also the responsibility of the media to give people the right to scrutinize their work, with the possibility to criticize the existing content and to contribute to new content, offering a democratic corrective to the traditional asymmetry of information between governors and the governed and between competing private agents.
To achieve the above technical and professional capacity to produce interactive and citizen-oriented TV, suitable programming content must be developed. This project aims at developing a special TV show for the channel 25TV, run by a group of 10 young journalists, trained in the wider aspects of journalism (shooting, directing, editing), giving them the opportunity to report on stories in the field in a facilitated, flexible and interactive manner, so as to give a voice to different groups of people with legitimate demands. This will help to better represent the poor, minorities and women in the media, via the use of new means of communication such as blogs and social media to communicate with the public. The project also proposes to develop the channel’s user-generated content (UGC) by promoting ‘interactive journalism’ through online interaction with their audience on a website. UGC will encourage public debate, social inclusion and ultimately help to improve Egyptian people’s access to information and freedom of speech.