Media Matters for Democracy marks the launch of Awam, a citizen journalism portal for reporting of governance issues especially in pre and post election(s) scenario.

‘Awam’ is a digital tool to facilitate citizens to generate multimedia journalism content, particularly on the local governance issues of their communities, and interface this content with the mainstream media outlets. MMFD through Awam allow citizens to generate video and photo content through a user-friendly, mobile-based application with or without 3G or 4G mobile internet access, collates that content on a centralised web-portal and allows it to be interfaced with popular social media platforms.

Awam is developed keeping in view the element of ‘fake news’ and takes measures to ensure credibility of the citizen generated content, which is a rare feature on popular social media platforms. It allow citizens to generate video and photo content through a user-friendly, mobile-based application with or without 3G or 4G mobile internet access, collates that content on a centralised web-portal and allows it to be interfaced with the mainstream media.

Beta version of Awam was launched on Saturday, the 30th December at the Marriott Hotel Islamabad, preceded by a panel discussion on the importance and need of citizen journalism and its role in improving transparency and enhancing governance. Individuals from a wide-range of professional background participated in the event.

Asad Baig, the director of MMFD, in his opening remarks said, “the mainstream media space, especially the broadcast media, focuses largely on the news content from urban centres owing to their limited time, resources and business interests. Urban politics remains the most covered beat getting most air-time and space. This severely restricts the ability of news content related to civic issues and governance from rural areas or smaller towns to access newsrooms. Through Awam, we hope to change that”. 

Rashida Dohad, co-founder of the Omar Asghar Khan Development Foundation gave the keynote speech, stressing the need for solutions that enable citizens and marginalised groups to add their voices and enjoy the full potential of technology. The panel discussion focused on the existing trends of citizen journalism and the impact of social media campaigning. Speakers stressed upon the need for individuals to take responsibility and report the happenings in their surroundings within their networks and speak publicly in support of each other.