LESSON PLAN: Alternative / Independent Media Activism in the MENA Region

DURATION: Around 75 minutes

In this lesson, participants are introduced to alternative/independent forms of media activism in the MENA region. After a short lecture and discussion on alternative/independent media practices, participants will read the case studies to identify how these examples illustrate alternative/independent media practices in the MENA region.

Participants will then share their research in discussion. This lesson can be facilitated so that participants work solo or in teams of two.

Learning Outcomes
Participants will:

• Begin to develop an understanding of alternative/independent media practices
• Identify specific alternative/independent media practices used by MENA media activists

Step 1. Prepare a 10 minute lecture and discussion on alternative/independent forms of media activism

• OPTIONAL – Provide participants access to excerpts from the following open access reading:
Forde, S. (2011). Chapter 1: Understanding alternative and ‘independent’ journalism. In
Challenging the News: The Journalism of Alternative and Community Media. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Retrieved from: https://www.macmillanihe.com/resources/sample-

− Suggested excerpts “How do practitioners see ‘alternative journalism’?” pp. 9-11 and “Working towards a meaningful definition” pp. 18-19.

Step 2. Prepare to give participants access to the activity prompt and the Diraya website

Step 1. Facilitate a 10 minute lecture and discussion on alternative/independent forms of media

• ASK – What do alternative/independent media do?

o Ask questions no one else is asking
o Try to empower people to understand issues and act
o Documenting the POV of those closest to news, interviewing prisoners about prisons, students about school, etc.
o More often committed to active publics, social responsibility
o Provide context to news, motivating public policy solutions, give voice to voiceless
o Redefining news (not just headlines and features, also community announcements, talk shows)
o Engage citizens in public life (i.e. public service journalism)
o Often disclose bias where mainstream pretend to be unbiased

• ASK – What are the broad organizational practices that define alternative/independent media?

o can be commercial (business operating for-profit) or non-commercial (not-for-profit organizations) or something else
o can be independent or chain-owned, but does not belong to a media conglomerate
o offers news and information from an alternative point of view
o shows attachment to politics or social movements
o produced by amateurs and/or professionals, by volunteers and/or paid staff
o provides a range of content from local journalism to investigative reporting
o shares content (broadcasts to) a mass audience or a niche audience

Step 2. Participants work solo or in teams of two for 30 minutes. Direct participants to the Diraya website and provide instructions on how to review the case study they choose

• OPTIONAL – Organize participants to work solo or in teams of two
• INSTRUCTIONS – Choose one case study from Diraya, see Case Studies and pick one from Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan, or Tunisia. Read and take
notes on what defines your chosen media as an example of alternative/independent media
practices. Use the following questions to guide your reading and prepare notes to share your research in discussion:

o What is the mandate and editorial position, is it from an alternative point of view?
o Is your case study linked to politics or social movements, civil society, community, etc.?
o What is the ownership structure? Is it a registered organization, what kind?
o Who produces the media content – amateurs, professionals, volunteers, paid staff?
o What kind of content is produced?
o How is the organization funded?
o Who is the target media user?

Step 3. Facilitate a 25 minute concluding discussion with participants. Have participants share the outcomes of their research to focus on two questions:

1) Why do these media do what they do?

a. Encourage participants to reflect on voice, marginalization, absence, misrepresentation,

2) How they do it? What are the motivations or goals and what are the ways in which these goals are achieved?

a. Encourage participants to think about the alternative ethos of media activist
organizations and how the decision-making processes, funding, limitations, aesthetics, etc. are different?

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