A Series of Digital Training Workshops Supported by the International Center for Journalists: Using Mobile Phones to Conduct Journalistic Work

The International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) and the Facebook Journalism Project have launched a series of training webinars in Arabic on video and mobile journalism. Trainer Mais Katt from the Rozana training centre organised two workshops out of six dedicated to the programme.

These workshops will be held over a period of six weeks, from 12 November to December 2020. Participants in the live webinar sessions via Zoom will receive a certificate in video journalism.

The webinars are part of the ICFJ’s expansion of its Social Media Solutions program, which aims at helping journalists in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA region) hone their skills in digital journalism, information verification methods, key storytelling tools, journalists’ digital safety, approaches to engage the public, and other topics that contribute to the development of journalistic work.

Journalists participating in these webinars will be able to define the basics of visual storytelling, become familiar with video-editing and mobile phone-related tools, in addition to learn more about the best ways to broadcast live videos on social media and other digital platforms.

List of training sessions’ dates and addresses:

Webinar 1: Use your mobile phone as a professional video journalist

On 12 November, Syrian journalist Mais Katt initiated the first two-hour webinar of the ICFJ’ new series of workshops on mobile and video journalism.

The session was attended by 418 participants from the Middle East and North Africa. Thus, journalists and activists asked Katt many questions and wrote comments, to which the trainer responded by providing the most pertinent tips and instructions.

Mais Katt, trainer and journalist at the Rozana Media Development Center (RMD), initiated the first training session entitled “Use your mobile…Use it as a professional video journalist from now on,” with delivering an introduction to video journalism, including a summary of the early beginnings of this journalistic discipline.

Katt tackled two main topics, namely, the forms of video content that can be produced online and via social media platforms, and key methods for producing high quality visual content.

Katt pointed out that “the emergence of video journalism and the increase in the use of mobile phone cameras to film news stories in recent years reflect the importance of new skills which transcend traditional methods*such as writing and interviewing” for today’s journalists.

She referred to the “enormous change in global media organisations,” encouraging the webinar participants to develop their skills to keep pace with this evolution and continue to produce outstanding journalistic work.

In this regard, journalist Katt also indicated that the behavioural change in the audience and the way of receiving information, stressing the need for journalists to be aware of these changes to adapt their work accordingly.

She explained that “a person who follows the news on his cell phone is different from another who reads the news in a newspaper, which necessarily affects the method of content creation.”

According to Katt, “70 percent of the audience do not read texts, articles and reports word for word, but scan instead, and that is why journalists have to use fewer words and write in a clear way, in addition to adding subtitles.”

During the webinar, Katt presented different models of visual content, including live streaming, silent video, info video, 360-degree video, longitudinal video and social media stories, in addition to providing example for these different types of reports, pointing out that producing high quality reports does not require the use of a sophisticated mobile phone.

In the second part, Katt clarified the basic elements of the video story, including the subject and the idea, and gave tips on how to choose the idea, while recommending careful selection, thorough research and a good drafting of the story before moving on to shooting.

Speaking about the importance of the emotional impact of the story, Katt stressed the vitality of having a strong beginning and including the most impactful shots at the start of the video, saying that “the first few moments prompt the viewer to decide whether to continue watching the video or not.”

The third and most pertinent element of video journalism is sound, and here the trainer highlighted the importance to preserve the surrounding sounds and use the commentator’s voice only when “it is necessary and useful,” noting “the importance of having a human being or a group of people as the heroes of the video story.”

After talking about the importance of sound and ways to record and integrate voices in the video, Katt tackled the focal aspects of visual appeal and visual sequence.

It is noteworthy that these training sessions are held remotely, as an extension of the training of journalists in the Middle East and North Africa within the “Social Media Platforms Solutions” program, which was launched in partnership with the Facebook Journalism Project and in cooperation with the Global Health Crisis Reporting Forum held by the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) and the International Journalists’ Network (IJNet).