31 Jul 2013
Much has happened in the Arab world over the last four weeks, and while Meedan have been supporting our partners in their coverage of events in Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Palestine, we've not managed to blog about our amazing Amman gathering of Checkdesk project partners which took place at the end of June.
Expectations for the meeting were high after the fruitful and productive meeting in Cairo last year, and nobody left disappointed as - for the first time - all Checkdesk publishing and training partners were in attendance to talk about how the project was developing and how our experiences over the past six months might guide the coming stages of our work together.
Kicking things off, partners listed some important project achievements thus far, which largely focused on the amazing range of training workshops that have taken place since April, from Qena and Marsa Matrouh in Egypt, to Gaza (no small feat) and the West Bank, to Kerak and Idlib in Jordan.
Following a rousing presentation and discussion of Monitoring and Evaluation from one of the project's newest recruits - BCU's Dima Saber - we broke into small groups to discuss evaluation strategies, develop plans for a public launch, and conduct usability testing.
Usability has always played an important role in Meedan's design methodology, and conducting in-person, intensive usability tests with partners proved extremely valuable both in validating design elements and pinpointing unforeseen wrinkles.
After a full day of hard work, we decamped to the excellent Safa seafood restaurant in downtown Amman, giving everyone good opportunity to put faces to names usually seen from the CC-line, and to find out more about what is going on in our network. With partners ranging from major regional newsrooms like Al-Masry Al-Youm, Ma'an and Annahar, to smaller, more citizen led initiatives like 7iber and Shabab Souria, and the regional newspaper group and training experts Welad El Balad and SMEX, there are lots of experience, skills and knowledge to be shared.
Refreshed and reinvigorated we hit the conference room hard for a second day, with Ma'an and Shabab Souria leading sessions on project management and media in conflict situations, before a group discussion on the upcoming training and a presentation by Chris Blow on the product future of Checkdesk.
Meedan would like to thank all of our partners and donors (APPF, Sida) for their dedicated hard work throughout the meeting, and also a special thanks to Meedani Dina ElHawary, without whom we all would have been lost somewhere on the King's Highway. With such an exceptional group of partners - willing to push the envelope in terms of how they engage their communities around content, and pioneer a new style of journalism - Checkdesk is a project with a bright future.