Supporting a free press in North Africa

Friday, December 7, 2012 | 11:57 AM

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These are tumultuous, exciting times in North Africa, for all citizens, but particularly for journalists. Once subject to strict controls, the press in much of the region suddenly is free to report and write. We want to encourage the free press, so we recently teamed up with the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations and the World Bank Institute to present comprehensive training on how our tools can benefit the media at IPSI (Institut de Presse & des Sciences de L'Information).

Some 26 journalists attended, selected from more than 300 applicants across Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria. Our Tunis-based Googler, Khaled Koubaa, spoke about the importance of a free and open internet and how it has evolved in the region. Workshop sessions featured hands-on training (via translation) with search, trends, Google Maps & Google Earth, Google Fusion Tables and Google+, and YouTube. The World Bank focused on finding data, showing the journalists how to use census data, GDP, health statistics and many more useful sources of information. Each participant received a certificate signed by the the UN and Google.

During the workshop’s second day, some 22 local Tunisian journalism received a glimpse into the next-generation of storytellers. Some of these students (and working journalists) have already been witness to historic events across North Africa. While some of the practices of data journalism are relatively new for many of them, their enthusiasm to learn and share ideas and integrate Google into their efforts was both humbling and inspiring.