The Mashreq has seen rapid growth in the area of the online media and has a strong development potential. The new media, particularly in the wake of the Arab Spring, are proving to be the most effective vector of free speech in this region. Independent pure players, journalists, activists and bloggers offer a wealth of varied information which is immediately picked up and discussed by users themselves.
However, they are faced with a number of problems shared by the region as a whole, problems which the 4M Mashreq project sets out to tackle. Paving the way in this fledgling industry, the journalists working for new media often lack training: some are still unfamiliar with web technologies, while others, although very comfortable on social networks, have scant training in basic journalism and management skills. Lastly, without a long-term strategic vision or a guarantee of financial independence these media cannot create a viable economic environment. The weak advertising market and lack of online payment systems are among the obstacles they face.
The 4M Mashreq project thus aims to support ten media with a high development potential, helping to strengthen their skills and promote exchanges with other media, to share experiences, as well as with potential investors.
Ten new media from Lebanon (6), Syria (1), Palestine (2) and Iraq (1) selected following a call for applications.
Selected following a call for applications from online news projects, the 10 beneficiaries of 4M Mashreq fulfil criteria in terms of quality, ability, innovation and development potential. Hosted by Alt City (Beirut, Lebanon), five training sessions were held to support participants in the development of their project. The three residential sessions take different forms (collective workshops, peer learning, involving the sharing of experiences and practices between participants, and personalised assistance for each project) and cover all aspects of the project: editorial, user experience, marketing, business model, development strategy, fundraising.
Beneficiaries pay the registration fees and set themselves goals between sessions, during which time they stay in contact with the educational coordinators of 4M Mashreq to encourage progress.
On 6 December 2013, 4M Mashreq will be officially launched in Beirut. Its aim is to provide tailored guidance to new, independent and innovative online media providers with significant potential for development.
In December 2013, CFI launched its call for applications for the 4M Mashreqprogramme, whichaims to support emerging online news media organisations showing significant potential for development in the Mashreq region, consisting of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine and Iraq.
At the end of 4M Mashreq, each project is pitched to potential investors. Individual meetings are then scheduled between the project developers and interested investors. The purpose of these meetings is to serve as a means of introduction and, ultimately, to obtain funding.
The leaders of the 10 projects selected after the call for applications launched in December 2013 are getting together in Beirut from 21 to 26 April 2014 for a first incubator meeting devoted to editorial content.
The 4M Beirut Forum, held in October 2014, attended by more than 150 participants, focused on themes specific to the regional context. Its aim was to encourage the sharing of experiences, pass on innovations and encourage networking between those in the industry who often have very different professional backgrounds. The 10 projects that were selected for the 4M Mashreq incubation project were presented and validated at this forum.
17, 18 and 19 October 2014
How are online media changing the very foundations of news production and broadcasting in the Arab world?
What impact are they having on the public debate?