Intajour Program Promoting Digital Journalism in Hostile Countries

By Simone ODonovan |

As journalists in Germany, there are many things we take for granted – access to information, or the ability to disagree with the powers that be as and when we like. That’s not the case for reporters in some countries for whom simply trying to do their job can have dangerous, and even deadly, consequences.

The development and spread of technology, however, is having a profound impact on such perilous work. See the citizen journalism which told the story of the Arab Spring, for example. And the International Academy of Journalism (Intajour) is trying to speed up that process. It is now accepting applications for the third year of its fellowship program aimed at promoting digital journalism in countries where freedom of the press is limited or non-existent.

Initiated and funded by Bertelsmann with the aim of fostering independent reporting worldwide, the program boasts a mixture of e-learning and in-person content and hopes to transform digital journalism into a tool that can initiate change. The fellowship provides journalists with a set of modern digital skills to make a difference in their home countries.

Intajour director Werner Eggert said: “After two successful fellowship years, I can safely claim that Intajour has established a unique training programme for coaching journalists in the digital media. We offer a course which is tailor-made for the needs of working journalists. A customised e-learning programme complements the attendance phases in Germany and allows participants to apply their skills in their work environment.”

The ten-month fellowship program emphasises the importance of skilled journalism in countries where both professional reporting and journalistic freedom is lacking. It explores topics such as investigative research, shooting and editing videos for the web, writing for the web and other media topics.

The program involves short attendance periods in Hamburg, Berlin and Cologne, and longer e-learning phases in the candidates’ home countries. E-learning methods include live online workshops, the use of digital gadgets and e-learning platforms that allow fellows to upload their work and comment on that of others.

Candidates are required to have some prior experience on an editorial team or as a freelancer. The previous two fellowships included participants from countries such as Pakistan, Egypt and Syria. After the program, graduates are expected to continue to work and contribute to their field. Many of the fellows from the last two years went on to start blogs and press freedom initiatives such as Rehab Abd Almohsen from Egypt, who now works as a journalism trainer in Egypt, and Krishna Prasad Acharya from Nepal who is currently one of the leading advocates for the freedom of the online media in the country.

Participants receive financial help towards course fees and international travel costs, and accomodation and meals are provided during attendance.

The lecturers are both from Germany and abroad and many work full-time at Bertelsmann Group media companies like RTL Group, Gruner + Jahr and Random House.

Applications for the fellowship are now open and the deadline is 12pm CEST on Friday, May 3.