WAN-IFRA

A publication of the World Editors Forum

Date

Tue - 23.01.2018


Mobile Khabar: how cellphones can develop media in Afghanistan

Mobile Khabar: how cellphones can develop media in Afghanistan

The U.S. Agency for International Development's new project is turning to cell phones to disseminate news in an unstable country with a tradition of low literacy.

According to NextGov, the initiative, called Mobile Khabar (meaning mobile news in both Dari and Pashto) is a mobile phone service that aims to provide Afghani subscribers with free customized daily news reports. When the system is running, the reports will stream radio broadcasting from local and foreign radios, as well as newspaper articles read aloud.

The initiative is good news for developing media. Mobile phones have become an integral part of reading and sharing news in the West, and focusing on the mobile to spread news means that more Afghanis will have access to independent news sources regardless of their location.

Much has been said about how cell phones are effectively "crowd-sourcing" journalism, as citizens that witness news can now take pictures, videos, and send tweets to bring attention to an event. The Afghani project is far off from turning Afghanis into ad-hoc journalists - internet access and smart phones, as well as technological know-how would be necessary pre-requisites. However, it is one of the first initiatives geared towards making media relevant for all citizens.

Although the country is at in precarious state as Western troops begin to withdraw, media options are growing under the new democracy. According to PEJ's 2011 State of the Media report, newspaper titles jumped 12.5% in 2009. In 2010, circulation was up 9% - a dream figure for a European or American publisher. These statistics are especially impressive in light of the Afghani literacy rate, which the Australian government estimates at 46% for men and only 12% for women.

Perhaps this new initiative can change the newspaper and broadcasting landscape in Afghanistan, which is ranked 146th in the 2010 World Press Freedom Index. Afghanis will have news choice, both national and international, and access to newspaper articles even if they cannot read. For the newspaper industry in developing countries, USAID's program is the first step in the right direction.

Sources: NextGov.com, State of the Media, ausaid.gov.au

Photo Credit: APF


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Author

Florence Pichon

Date

2011-07-08 13:14

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