Pop-Up Newsroom and me

Nearly a month ago, our professor of Multimedia journalism told in class about a global project on media coverage from around the world of human rights and refugee crisis, called Pop-Up Newsroom, that was going to be on Nov.5th, 2015. Students all around the world create a virtual newsroom for one day and tweet about the crisis with special #hashtags.

We did not exactly understand what it was all about, but the general idea sounded very interesting. The project was on voluntary participation basis, and I decided to sign up, as the Nov.5th was in the fall break, so I had free time and a curiosity for it.

When the project date was approaching, we had many sources to find stories from. We could contact social activists by E-mail or Facebook, find stories online, or to find stories in real life by conducting interviews with related people.

I decided to go to Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, as I successfully arranged two meetings on the project day. Also, I contacted with two people through E-mail and social networks, from whose stories I could make multimedia projects.

Here is a brief timeline of my work on the project:

Nov.4th: I am receiving the audio clip from a Greek photographer D.Kouris, who made a photo project in Lesbos, Greece, that is one of the main entry points of refugees to Europe.

This was the first time someone has sent his/her story to me as a journalist. I have never seen him in person, and I can hardly his face precisely, apart from seeing some photos on Facebook. But I can hear him: here it is, his voice, telling an amazing story to me. This was an amazing feeling.

Tweet about it:

Nov.5th: I am waking up at 6:30am to buy tickets for a 8:10am bus with my classmates. I am hardly catching Wi-Fi to write an important message. I take my backpack, electronic devices, notebook with addresses, and go. I go for my first journalist trip.

2 hours by bus, and I am Sofia. Tweeting the story of Kouris in the building of the bus station and heading to the first meeting, to the humanitarian aid office of the Council of Refugee Women in Bulgaria, where they give donations every Thursday.

There, for the first time in my life, I actually saw a Syrian refugee. He was approximately 50 years old, looking like a typical man from American movies in 1980s: wearing a denim outfit and a cap. He was choosing shoes and clothes from the big boxes with donations, perhaps,for his family as well.

We hear about refugees every day, but the feeling that you get when you actually see a refugee and imagine him escaping a war in his country, is a powerful way to realize that the crisis is not somewhere far away, but it is close to us.

Tweet about it:

Next, I went to my second appointment: I met with Tz.P.Tzankovski, a director of Refugee Support Group founation in Bulgaria. He told me about current situation in refugee camps and the thoughts that refugees have when they enter Bulgaria: to go further, to Germany.

When we were walking down the street, we saw a woman who lost her glasses on the car road and was standing so unconsiously, that is seemed like she was not able to get up.

My interviewee rushed to help this woman, and I imagined how he helped refugees when he worked with them in the camps. “People who do good things do them every day,” I thought.

Tweet about it:

Nov.6th: I am already back on campus, posting more stories, as the project was prolonged for one day. On Facebook, I contacted with a woman working for Refugee Help Map project, who told me that most of its workers are part-time volunteers. It was great to learn that there are people who help people without even getting paid, and these people put much effort in informing people about the current situation of the refugee crisis.

Tweet about it:

After all, all my classmates who took part in the project were very pleased to work for it. I personally learned so many things about real-life journalism that I could never learn in classroom, that I was happy to add this experience to my CV.

I liked it all; I felt myself comfortable being a journalist, and I managed to communicate with people I never knew before. I learned how to record audio and post media works from McDonalds, where they have Wi-Fi, how to meet deadlines, and how to react as active as possible whenever it is needed. This was an amazing activity.

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