Somalia has been affected by conflict for the last 29 years, and many parts of the country, local administrations/state governments limit the ability of professional journalists to operate freely. Freedom of press and human rights abuses are rampant in some parts of the country where militias and affiliated terrorist groups such as Al Shabab operate. The social fabric of the society has been shattered by fear and mistrust amongst the people. It is imperative that restoration of hope is done using creative media platforms and journalism which seeks to explore the people’s issues in a safe environment. Citizen journalists courageously fill the gaps left behind by professional journalists as they often adopt a different perspective from media professionals.
Whilst citizen journalist individuals across the country often lack the basic journalistic skills and vital equipment related to their job and their safety, many of them work and reports without knowing the importance of what they are doing. For instance, in the last five years, citizen journalists have turned out to be the most progressive force for creating, dialogue, reconciliation and peace building mechanism for transforming a democratic system, supporting human rights and building spaces where people can freely expose their ideas and interests. It became one of the best tools to engender young people to overcome the problems caused by the conflict. It is known that citizen journalists often lack the core skills required by professional journalists, given the lack of equipment, technical skills and experience In this regard, Somali Faces with support of Free Press Unlimited implemented a six months pilot project about strengthening the journalism skills for youth in Somalia by building their capacity as storytellers using appropriate technologies and media forums.
Citizens often lead the way in starting their own projects to gather information that they consider important, without specific training in journalism. Allowing citizens to contribute information using mobile phones is especially important in a country where people are about ten times as likely to have a cell phone as an Internet connection. This is truer in the rural areas where even the Somali nomads are equipped with mobile phones. Not only does citizen reporting empower individuals to share their experiences for the benefit of others, but it can act as a check on reporting—or the lack thereof—of the traditional news media Somali Faces, a diasporic led youth institution that conducts training mentoring and empowering youth and women storytellers across Somalia, implemented a media awareness training, training for net-citizens in audio-visual and hosted symposiums/exhibitions in 3 different zones including Somaliland, Puntland and Mogadishu with the participation of local leaders and civil society actors.