Our second workshop is being held at the office of the Misrata Media Union. The MMU is an organization that hopes to work for the support of all Misrati journalists. They provided Small World News a warm welcome. They have a large conference room more befitting an executive boardroom than a training space. I'm learning that the impact of comfortable chairs cannot be overestimated in improving the demeanor of trainees over a long day. Sixteen journalists and mediamakers from all over Misrata were present. Misrata TV, Tobacts TV, Tobacts FM and the Freedom Group all sent representatives to the training. It was great to see journalists from across the city sit together and collaborate. We saw similar attitudes in our training in Tripoli, however its clear that there is a quite a bit more competition between media in Tripoli, while in Misrata they seem less concerned about competing directly with each other.
We hoped that being able to show the results of our first training in Tripoli would make it easier to explain the goal of the workshop and the national campaign. This was not the case. I think its quite possible this made our task more difficult in some ways. The trainees latched onto whatever criticism they had of an individual video. Only a few seemed able to recognize the greater impact or potential reach. Its an understandable difficulty, there is very little history of individuals speaking for themselves, and even less of listening to such individuals.
Perhaps it just takes time for the notion to sink in. Later in the day several individual trainees presented quite compelling story ideas, after previously seeming to have not a clue how to approach the concept. It is my belief that one of the best ways to assist Libyans to move toward unity and broader understanding, is simply to show as diverse an array of individual Libyans as possible. Opening a space for Libyans to hear from a truly diverse cross-section of their fellow citizens can serve to create bonds not possible through more direct means. Yet when you have never had a space for individuals to speak their minds freely, its hard to grasp the importance, or even the relevance of such stories.
By the end of the day the trainees had broken up into a half dozen groups. They told me most of them in each group were from different organizations and had not worked together before. I'm looking forward to see what the Misrati trainees produce. They are a strong and dedicated bunch. If they apply themselves, and believe in the value of human stories from everyday Misratis, I expect they'll create some great work in the next four days.