Wednesday, 15 May 2013

From Twitter to taxis: building a citizen reporter network in Mozambique

Sitting in his warm office in Maputo, Adérito Caldeira, Editor-in-Chief of @Verdade greets my opening question with a thoughtful silence. When he speaks, as always, he is considered, passionate and informed.

"Really this is our first election where we are engaging with what is happening in the country," he says. "Before, in 2008, we were starting. We just reported the final results. But now, after five years, media is a tool for the transformation and development of the country. This election is one of the first steps."

On the 25th of May this year, electoral registration in Mozambique begins. The entire electoral register is being rebuilt from scratch, meaning everyone of voting age (and Adérito thinks around 50% of all these voters could be identified as "young people") has to identify and find their local polling station and register before they are able to vote. Municipal elections are coming up in November 2013 and the national elections are due sometime (none knows quite when) in 2014.

In a country as big as Mozambique (it is twice the size of Germany), just finding your polling station is a challenge. There are 43 municipalities and some might only have 50 polling stations, meaning the distances between polling stations are more usefully measured in hours, not kilometres.

Ensuring that all these polling stations are fully-functioning is a task @Verdade takes very seriously. But with only eleven members of their editorial team, covering this vast country and its 2,500 polling stations is an almost impossible task. That's where their innovative Citizen Reporter (Cidadão Repórter in Portuguese) network comes in.

Read the rest of my post on building a community reporter network over on sourcefabric.org...

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