And away we go….
Faithful readers of this newsletter will know that TOL sees great opportunity in the emergence of online learning platforms and what they allow us to do in some of the harder-to-reach areas of our region.
All of a sudden ease of access is no longer an issue in sharing with journalists the latest skills and tools we’ve worked hard to cultivate in our professional trainings. Thanks to the continuing support of the National Endowment for Democracy for our Central Asia project, we can now reach reporters and activists in even the most remote locations as long as they have a computer with a modest Internet connection.
Last week, after months of preparation, we officially launched the TOL Media Academy, our very own e-learning platform, to the general public. Previously, we have used this Moodle-based platform for a handful of courses targeted to specific groups. But now we are opening it up to any journalist or student wanting to brush up on some of the latest trends in digital journalism.
Right now we are offering three courses in Russian: Writing for the Web, Mobile Journalism, and Social Networks and Audience Engagement. The courses were written and designed by Kevin Anderson, a new media expert with more than a decade of experience at the BBC and theGuardian.
So far interest in the courses has been stunning, with nearly 50 participants registering within the first few days. Participants are from all over the world, with most coming from our target region in Central Asia.
Social media: The training that keeps on training
This month our Georgia team trained 30 journalism students from universities in Batumi and Kutaisi on harnessing the power of social media. The workshops were held as part of the project “Support of Active Citizenship and Involvement of Youth in Public Life in Georgia,” with the support of the Czech Foreign Ministry.
Among the participants of the training were Salome Gegeshidze and Gvantsa Totadz, two alumni from the Digital Journalism course we held last year in Prague. Salome and Gvantsa — along with other participants Givi Avaliani, Tamara Razmadze, Sopo Bobokhidze, Keti Labadze, Giorgi Sharashidze, Mari Kobuladze, Levan Pantskhava, and Irakli Vachiberidze — recently got together to found an NGO called Youth Initiatives that works to promote social media literacy among young people in Georgia, especially in the regions. The participants are now conducting their own training events in the Imereti region for local students.
And the award goes to …?
We were excited to learn earlier this month that we have been nominated for theSustainable Entrepreneurship Award in the best idea category for our Media Defender project.
You may not have heard much about this project yet, as it is still in its infancy, but we are confident you will be hearing much more about it over the course of 2013. Without giving too much away, the concept of Media Defender is to harness the power and past success of crowdfunding as a sustainable model for supporting journalists in areas of the world with little to no press freedom.
TOL was one of 260 submissions from 30 countries for the award. We are now in the running with only four others. The winner will receive 20 hours of start-up and communications consulting and an interview in SUCCEED business magazine.
The international Sustainable Entrepreneurship Award honors sustainable entrepreneurial activities and is awarded to companies of different branches and fields from all over the world who are putting sustainable entrepreneurship into practice.
Executive Director Jeremy Druker will head to Vienna on 10 April to represent TOL at the award gala in the event we win.
Transitions Online (www.tol.org) often showcases the work produced through our grant programs. Some of the highlights from February include the following stories:
6 February 2013
Why Do Russian Judges Act That Way?
An expert on the Russian judiciary explains why the country’s judges can’t – or won’t – exercise their independence.
By Sergey Chernov
8 February 2013
Lines in the Sand
As recent violence shows, conflict over the loopy borders and scattered enclaves of the Ferghana Valley is always close at hand.
By Bakyt Ibraimov
12 February 2013
Belarus: Not Good Enough for Government Work
In another blow to Lukashenka’s planned economy, officials say up to a fourth of bureaucrats will lose their jobs.
By Katerina Barushka
14 February 2013
In Uzbekistan, an Undeclared Race to the Top
The ‘candidates’ are keeping quiet, but the autocratic president’s 75th birthday prompts speculation about who might replace him.
By Makhmud Ismoilov
15 February 2013
To the Mattresses
The Catholic Church has launched one of the fiercest anti-government campaigns in Croatia’s history over a new sex education initiative.
By Kruno Kartus
18 February 2013
Dilettante, Polymath, Traitor
Reality TV host-turned-opposition leader Ksenia Sobchak’s career reflects the silly and the serious of Russian popular culture.
By Alexander Kolesnichenko
21 February 2013
Portrait of the Artist as an Endangered Species
A few scattershot efforts to revive Tajikistan’s moribund arts scene are no match for the poverty and isolation that plague it.
By Farrukh Ahrorov
26 February 2013
Scoundrels or Scapegoats?
A debate rages in Kyrgyzstan over who should pay for the murder and mayhem of the April 2010 uprising.
By Askar Erkebaev
27 February 2013
The education system in the Presevo Valley reflects the complex ethno-politics of southern Serbia, and the wider Balkans.
By Uffe Andersen
Azerbaijan and Moldova
Promoting the use of new media and social media among journalists, civil society organizations, and young people.
Promoting the use of Internet media and new media techniques to produce, promote, and distribute new forms of content.
Improving the quality of environmental investigative journalism while increasing the impact of the environmental movement in Russia.
Using distance learning courses, workshops, and other resources to improve reporting on education-related topics.