MEDIA PARCOURS: Tunisian media look to the future | DW AKADEMIE | DW | 16.05.2024
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MEDIA PARCOURS: Tunisian media look to the future

The first three Tunisian media startups and outlets have completed the media acceleration program MEDIA PARCOURS, part of DW Akademie’s SMART MEDIA ACCELERATOR program.

A media entrepreneur's career is both exhilarating and rough, with many unexpected twists and turns requiring a quick response. Team changes, shifting market conditions and financial pressures are among the many challenges facing three Tunisian media: Blue TN, Radio Elyssa and QLM. Yet each just finished the acceleration program MEDIA PARCOURS, designed to ease their efforts.

In six months with MEDIA PARCOURS, the three media organizations built capacities, consulted experts, developed skills through e-learning resources and networked with other entrepreneurs. They worked on producing quality journalism and content, audience and business development and how to better handle finances and commerce.

Environmental media clean up their business plan

In 2021, Mayssa Sandli joined the media incubation MEDIA LOVES TECH aiming to report on Tunisia's environment. Now up and running, Blue TN went onto the acceleration program MEDIA PARCOURS.

The Blue TN team at a data visualization workshop organized by partner NGO Al Khatt

The Blue TN team started with MEDIA LOVES TECH and has now finished the MEDIA PARCOURS program

The program is builds on MEDIA LOVES TECH, a regional media startup development program. In the next phase of MEDIA PARCOURS, startups further develop as a business, while maintaining their innovative approach.

For Sandli, the biggest organizational challenge is managing and motivating a remote freelance team. Therefore, the training on producing creative content for social media, led by DW journalist Hamza Shawabkeh, was especially useful for the Blue TN team. It not only strengthened skill sets, but also motivated the team to seek out, research and report on new topics.

"Both programs [MEDIA LOVES TECH and MEDIA PARCOURS] are beneficial and provide you with something you take away and implement," said Sandli. "Since MEDIA LOVES TECH, we have worked with a quality checklist, which is now an invaluable part of our work."

The quality checklist outlines and streamlines journalistic criteria for the outlet, such as verifying sources and citation standards.

Finding flow on the radio

For the community radio Radio Elyssa based in Gabes, the practical skills they obtained through trainings and workshops were also the most beneficial perk of the MEDIA PARCOURS program. It helped the radio station strengthen their team cooperation.

Radio Elyssa during the Viability Sprint

The Radio Elyssa team put their energy into social media, with promising results

"The program had a good dynamic and it resulted in a lot of learning opportunities," recalled Radio Elyssa technical director Mohamed Hamdi. "It was a great chance to work together."

Radio Elyssa also worked with a quality checklist to improve production and help with internal processes to ensure quality journalism.

The Radio Elyssa team have already seen results. The new digital formats they developed during MEDIA PARCOURS immediately translated into increased views and more audience engagement on social media, especially on Facebook.

Animating production plans

For Ahmed Amine Azouzi, CEO of QLM, the initial assessment for MEDIA PARCOURS brought many organizational issues to the surface. The shortcomings for QLM, which produces explanatory and animated social media content, were related to the company’s business model.

QLM during the Viability Sprint

The media outlet QLM learned to stay agile in their field

"The business model that we developed in 2021 was no longer the best fit, as the industry is going through so many changes," said Azouzi. "The V-Sprint that we passed through in the beginning of the program made us realize that we needed to, apart from content production, put more emphasis on financial viability."

The V-Sprint (short for Viability Sprint), is a needs assessment for media companies that illustrates how a team could become more resilient and produce quality content relevant to their audiences.

After the V-Sprint, local and international experts offered QLM coaching so as to support the organization's agility so it can respond to the market.

Quality, perspective, support

The participants also have access to many e-learning resources and a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), which focuses on journalism basics like fact-checking. These resources are especially helpful for those more experienced in business and technology but are new to the media industry.

The MEDIA PARCOURS program also tracks and promotes the development and progress of each participating media with individually set indicators. This builds understanding in how the media outlet operates in its environment, how the audience responds and it can help guide future decision-making.

Sandli hence summarizes the MEDIA PARCOURS program in three words: "Quality, perspective and support."

Media outlets that pass through the MEDIA PARCOURS are also well-equipped to later apply for the EU-funded financial support to third parties grants (FSTP) open to Tunisian media. The financial support, ranging from €5,000 to €60,000, can help organizations that report on socio-economic topics. This year, Blue TN, QLM and Radio Elyssa were all selected for FSTP grants.  

The media acceleration program MEDIA PARCOURS is part of DW Akademie's media initiative SMART MEDIA ACCELERATOR and funded by the European Union and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

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