Twitter launching journalism training in Dubai
Dubai - The Dubai Press Club (DPC) is working with Twitter to offer a year-long course to help journalists and media students develop reporting and storytelling skills through the popular social networking site.
Due to begin in September, the programme, with sessions in English and Arabic, will initially be available in the United Arab Emirates but there are plans to extend it across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) next year.
DPC Director Alia al-Theeb said the goal was to support learning and the growth of digital journalism because social media tools such as Twitter lead to dramatic shifts in the way news content is produced, distributed and consumed.
“The initiative, developed in partnership with Twitter, forms part of our ongoing efforts to empower journalists in the region,” she said during the announcement of the programme at the 16th Arab Media Forum in Dubai.
“The programme will build students’ skills and competencies so they can develop into tomorrow’s leading journalists. Twitter has quickly gained a widespread following among the young generation as a news source and is at the forefront of the trend for people gaining control of news consumption through social media,” Theeb said.
Kinda Ibrahim, director of media partnerships at Twitter in the MENA region, said: “As a real-time information network whose role is to keep people informed about the world, Twitter has proved to be an essential tool for the modern-day journalist.
“Such a partnership will allow students in the region to gain an official training, which enables them to both source and break news through the platform. We see this as a much-needed programme that will equip journalists with the right skills to progress their careers in today’s new media landscape.”
Faisal al-Yafai, a columnist for the National newspaper in Abu Dhabi and who has a strong Twitter following, described the move as “very necessary and indeed overdue.”
“Twitter has increasingly become not only a go-to place to discover pieces of news but a platform in which journalists can actually break news and tell news stories in a different, innovative way,” he said.
“Young journalists today, and particularly Arab journalists who are operating in a region that uses at least three major languages — Arabic, English and French — need to be able to access what is being said in every part of the region and the world rapidly.”
Hassan Hassan, a senior fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy in Washington and a contributing writer to the Guardian, Foreign Policy and other publications, also spoke of the opportune nature of the online tutoring course.
“The training course in Dubai is both timely and critical,” he said. “The UAE and the Gulf region have a growing internet usage penetration and some of the highest number of Twitter and social media users per capita.”
Hassan, co-author of “ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror” and whose work focuses on Syria, Iraq and the Gulf states, highlighted another benefit of the Twitter course.
“Training about how to maximise reach and be conscious of the dangers that usually come with the use of social media is incredibly useful for young people and students,” he said. “Extremist groups, for example, are avid users of social media and the Gulf populations are among their top targets and so educated youth should be similarly savvy in the way they use such media.”
Abu Dhabi-based Tierra Smith, 24, a recent master’s degree graduate from Louisiana State University, has written a thesis about the role of female journalists in the UAE.
“This is big for the UAE. There is a need to develop and mentor the next generation of young journalists,” she said. “They must have a hungry appetite for news but also understand how to use tools such as social media and mobile journalism to their advantage. This will give many college students and young professionals an hands-on approach to an exciting and rewarding industry.
“Once a young journalist gets a taste of fast-paced field, it is addicting. They will create captivating work that will advance the country and the GCC as a whole.”
More information on the programme can be obtained through the Dubai Press Club at info@dpc. org.ae.