In Malaysia, news reporting is monopolized by major news organizations that are either owned by political parties or funded by corporations that are government-friendly.
The growing skepticism and distrust among readers have created a demand for impartial and objective news and gave birth to a new form of journalism known as citizen journalism.
Recognizing that there is potential news out there which escapes mainstream media, Malaysiakini’s CEO and co-founder Premesh Chandran started the citizen journalism training course with funding from International Center for Journalists in the United States in 2008, with the first training conducted in November that year.
The idea behind this course is to equip its participants, regardless of background, with journalistic skills to improve their writing and hone new skills such as video story-telling.
They are also introduced to the world of journalism – its ethics and mechanics that would guide them in their reporting and distinguish them from mainstream journalists.
The workshops are intense, compact and hands-on with theoretical and practical exercises crafted to convert ordinary people – teachers, lawyers, students, retirees – into fair, ethical and daring citizen journalists reporting on issues that concern them and their community.
Key to the programme is close monitoring and mentoring to achieve continual improvements in skill sets amongst active CJs.
Since its inception, the programme has spawned 400 citizen journalists, of which 150 are active reporters. Some have made a name for themselves.
Over 80 training workshops have been conducted throughout Malaysia– in Kelantan, Penang, Perak,Kuala Lumpur, Johor, Sabah and Sarawak.
CJs, as they are internally known, have shaken political parties, highlighted community struggles, covered religious and ethnicity issues and other such stories which would not normally make it to mainstream media.
The course gives weight to video journalism as visuals tell a million stories and are able to move emotions. Messages come out stronger with raw footages and at-the-scene reporting. Some of the videos produced by the CJs are even picked up by other online news portals and disseminated across cyberspace.
The workshops have changed many of the participants since they attended the course. Participants become confident and inquisitive as they are pushed into doing interviews and approaching people while enthusiastic ones learn to be more ethical and professional.
Some who have not handled a video camera before can now produce, edit and make documentaries, while those who could not write before are now sending articles to be published in Malaysiakini.
To date, 1900 videos have been produced and over 2000 articles have been written, of which many have been published in Malaysiakini.
Due to the success of the training and workshops, www.cj.my was established as a platform for citizen journalists to host their work. This new breed of journalists are beginning to shape the way news is being reported and are challenging the red-tape surrounding sensitive issues.
The citizen journalism course has paved the way for a journalistic revolution in Malaysia. There isn’t anything like this in the region.
Over the last 34 months, Malaysiakini through the grant provided by the Department of Rights and Labour, US State Department and assistance of International Centre for Journalists has successfully conducted almost 70 workshops all over Malaysian and trained more than 350 Citizen Journalists.
As the result of these trainings, to date, the Citizen Journalists has successfully produced more than 1500 news videos and almost 1000 news articles. These stories have triggered significant reactions from many individuals, organizations and the government itself.
Citizen Journalists Malaysia organized the first ever conference in conjunction with the World Press Freedom Day at the Central Market Annexe, Kuala Lumpur, which was participated by more than 120 Citizen Journalists from all over Malaysia.
The first conference marked at the first step in formalizing the Citizen Journalists movement in Malaysia. A resolution was adapted by the attending Citizen Journalists to formalize the movement and to make Citizen Journalists Malaysia as a legal entity.
Since then, the work to formalize the organization has been on going and 4 chapters have been created to manage the Citizen Journalists all over Malaysia. As part of the formalization process, 4 regional offices for the Citizen Journalists Malaysia also have been opened in Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru and Kota Kinabalu.
In keeping up with the momentum to make Citizen Journalists Malaysia a bigger and more credible organization, the second annual conference was organized by the Southern Region Chapter on September 2011.
The second conference became the venue to bring together all the active Citizen Journalists to move forward into the third year of existence. In line with the theme, “Citizen Journalists Empowering Communities”.
This Citizen Journalism training is formulated to take you into more detail aspects of journalism and video journalism. Since this is an intensive course we have devised a compact program which will enable you to be an all rounder in citizen journalism covering aspects of writing and video making. The whole program will be impromptu, raw and breakthrough. During the training you will be thriving to learn what the undergraduates learn in 4 semesters.
The underlying objective is to create good, responsible, ethical and unbiased Citizen Journalist who reports news happening in their surrounding which affects them and the community. Their articles or videos will be picked up by Malaysiakini to be published in their news site for maximum exposure.
In order to join us, you need to attend our training which is conducted through out Peninsular and East Malaysia. Once you have attended the training, you will be interning for few days with Malaysiakini editorial team before you can start contributing news.
written by Sharyn Lisa Shufiyan, Citizen Journalists