Pakistan Entrepreneurial Journalism Program – Webinar

Global Neighbourhood for Media Innovation (GNMI) hosted about Pakistan Entrepreneurial Journalism Program, a webinar on 26th November 2020 at 8:00 pm. The webinar was streamed live on the official Facebook account of GNMI. The purpose of the webinar was to discuss the program in detail with a hint on why we need entrepreneurial journalism at this crucial time when the media industry in Pakistan is suffering amid the COVID-19 pandemic and political instability. Another purpose of the webinar was to introduce our trainers and mentors of this program and give the interested applicants an opportunity to ask them questions about the big move – from mainstream media to digital platforms to try their luck in entrepreneurship. 

Earlier, GNMI hosted a Tweet chat on 20th November 2020 in which it answered questions of the applicants about the application process of phase one of the Pakistan Entrepreneurial Journalism Program. This webinar was arranged to give the program applicants an understanding of the big move they have decided to take in their career. 

The participants

Host: Tehreem Azeem 

Panelists: Aoun Abbas Sahi, Marjan Arbab, Badar Khushnood, and Najia Ashar

Brief Introduction of Participants

Following is a brief introduction of each of the panelists of this webinar.

Tehreem Azeem 

Tehreem Azeem is working with GNMI as a consultant for digital and content. She has been writing a blog on socio-political issues for several years now. She started her career with Dunya news as Editor of their blogs and features section. She has also worked with Pakistan’s first and oldest feminist institute, Shirkat Gah – Women’s Resource Centre, as a social media strategist. She is currently doing a Ph.D. from the Communication University of China. She also writes a weekly blog for Independent Urdu. 

Aoun Abbas Sahi 

Aoun Abbas Sahi is an Islamabad-based award-winning journalist, researcher, media trainer, and development communication specialist. He is currently associated with The Los Angeles Times as a special correspondent. In 2016, he shared the Pulitzer Prize awarded to LA Times staff for coverage of the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California.

Marjan Arbab 

Marjan Arbab is an academic turned entrepreneur working in digital media marketing, blogging, and monetization. She started her blog in 2008 and turned it into the most famous blog run by any woman in Pakistan. She now teaches courses on blogging. She is currently working with National Incubation Center in Karachi.

Badar Khushnood 

Badar Khushnood works as a growth hacker for a digital media and marketing company, Bramerz. Before co-founding Bamerz, he worked with Google, Facebook, and Twitter as a consultant for Pakistan for several years. He is also an active mentor at several tech incubators and accelerators in Pakistan.

Najia Ashar 

Najia Ashar is the founder and president of GNMI. She has worked with GEO news for ten years as a senior anchor and producer. She is also a former John S. Knight fellow. She founded GNMI after her fellowship at Stanford University that offers digital tools, leadership, and security and safety for journalists in Pakistan. 

Discussion

Najia Ashar started the discussion with a brief account of the Pakistan Entrepreneurial journalism Program. She told PEJP will help journalists reclaim the autonomy and freedom on their work that they have lost in mainstream media and take control of their income that they will generate themselves through their work on their digital news outlet. 

‘The only thing that we had in our mind when we were working on this program was the media crisis. Many of our fellow journalists lost their jobs recently, having no idea what to do, especially during a pandemic. It pushed us to work on this program,’ she said. This program will work on the triangle of journalism, business, and technology, which is the perfect recipe for a news startup in this age. Journalists already know about content creation. We do not have to train them on that. What we need to teach them is brand strategy and monetization.’ 

Marjan Arbab and Badar Khushnood, who have diverse experience in digital media, will train participants of this program in marketing and monetization strategies. Talking about how digital media has changed media practices worldwide, opening new ways for young journalists, Badar Khushnood said that each platform has its own strategy that content creators must follow to succeed in that specific domain. 

“Digital media has democratized the media industry in the entire world. Everyone is a contributor and content creator, but the challenge is to manage it every day. Each digital platform has its own strategy for content creation. Other than that, the content creators should have their own hybrid strategy to grow in digital domains. 

Aoun Abbad Sahi took part in the discussion giving insight into the big shift media companies had been making, refraining their employees from using digital media in their professional capacities. “A private TV channel issued a notice to some of its employees who were running their own YouTube channels to shut them down or to resign from their positions. Two of the journalists choose their channels over their jobs as it gave them more autonomy and freedom in their work. That is what a journalist want.”

He said PEJP could become a solution to the media crisis, but journalists will have to take the first step. 

Marjan Arbab took up the discussion onward, telling her blogging journey that gave her recognition and made her a successful entrepreneur. 

“The good thing is that journalists make their own content And in the online world, content is king. Whoever has good content will ultimately succeed,” she said.

“Other technical details, such as website development and brand strategy, are not hard to learn. If one is focused, they can learn those with time. One thing one must keep in their mind is that this whole process will take its own time, but I can guarantee you that your hard work will pay off if you are using it in the right direction.”

Badar Khushnood agreed with her, saying that earlier is better. 

“The sooner we will make the move, the sooner we will get success.” He urged young journalism graduates to take their start directly from digital media. 

At the end of the webinar, panelists answered questions of the participants from the comments section. Moving towards the end of the webinar, the host asked Badar Khushnood what he was expecting from the first cohort of PEJP he would be training in January next year. He said he was expecting them to come with an open mind to learn new things and unlearn previously learned things. 

Najia Ashar closed the webinar with a brief description of phase II and phase II of the program. The first cohort participants will apply for technical training and seed money to invest in their digital ventures. She also said that 50% of the seats were reserved for women. The deadline to apply for the program is 2nd December 2020.

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