Social Media News Gathering Workshop at Mehran University

GNMI conducts training on social media and human rights, for students at Mehran University, Jamshoro.

Social media newsgathering is a matter of fact in the world of journalism today. For this purpose GNMI conducted a training geared towards students so as to train them in ways to most efficiently and credibly source news from the vast landscape of social media. The student training took place at Mehran University and was attended by 90 participants out of which 26 were women.   

In order to provide in-depth perspective by journalists who are well-versed in how to utilize the digital practice of social media newsgathering, a guest speaker was featured in the training. Alongside founder GNMI and head trainer, Najia Ashar, director CeJ-IBA, Kamal Siddiqui was present at the training and spoke for an hour sharing his insights into the trends of fake news globally and in Pakistan and how journalism today is being impacted. He emphasized the need to practice the journalist code of ethics and report responsibly.

The importance of social media in todays’ world was discussed, not just on a personal level but a professional one. The training was supplemented with a visual presentation that outlined features provided by social media platforms that could facilitate newsgathering for professional and budding journalists alike. The participants were all provided with worksheets that had screenshots of initial social media posts describing incidents of sexual and domestic violence. For example there was the case of the 14 year old domestic worker who was assaulted beyond recognition and left to die, a well-known university rape and murder case, and several other relevant and recent incidents that were only picked up by the national media after they spread like wildfire on social media.

The students were given pre and post-tests as well to measure how much of the gender biases and social media newsgathering they understood at a level that would ensure that their knowledge is sustainable. There was a significant increase in the knowledge for the participants and this can be verified from the interesting presentations they chose to create while using the case studies on the worksheet as their baseline. This was s research based activity where students were asked to scour the social media landscape and gather as many sources on the case study they chose in order to prove its authenticity as well as present it with a deeper knowledge of all the angles.

They presented their final projects on chart papers using sticky notes and markers in order to detail the ways in which they would pick the news and how they would post about it on different mediums. Head trainer Ashar gave them feedback on the sources they chose and the ways in which they formatted the stories as well as the language used to present it.

The training was well-received and the participants were enthused about the opportunity to apply their learning from this training to other human rights cases that they would come across on social media in the future.

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