Switch Perspectives: New Approaches to Media Production, Journalism and Storytelling

New Approaches to Media Production, Journalism and Storytelling

Within the programme Swith Perspective and under the scope of the Alternative Academy, this course was open for anyone wanting to get a better understanding of stereotypes and power dynamics in the context of journalism and media, and find ways to do more just and equitable reporting and writing. Participants got the opportunity to locate and understand stereotypes and power dynamics, reflect on their own perspectives and positions of privilege and/or oppression, look critically at media production, and, through workshops on pitching and creative writing, explore new ways of writing and telling stories.

The course tackled the following topics:

Why rethink how we do journalism? This session introduced the course and let participants set their own goals for the entire seven-session programme. We looked at recent examples of media coverage of migration, including news stories, photography and analytical pieces, and opened up for a discussion of what kind of media coverage we see today – and how to make it more diverse, just and reflecting of different perspectives. Participants got assigned the task to work on a specific story throughout the course.

Stereotypes and how to avoid single stories: “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.” (Adichie). This session introduced the concepts of stereotypes and power dynamics, and a reflection on how the stories we produce can be used to empower and humanize instead of dispossessing and malign.

Journalistic perspectives: This session gave the participants the opportunity to use concepts and ideas introduced during the discussion on stereotypes and ’single stories’. We looked back and reflected on things we had reported on previously, in order to find concrete ways to do more diverse and equitable journalism. Things discussed included: How do we find people to interview? How do we search for new ideas and research our stories? And how do we approach and write about issues?

Creative Writing: This session was an introduction to creative non-fiction, a form of journalism that emerged in the 60s in the US and later spread and became popular in the rest of the world. In this course students learned more about the genre, discovered various techniques, and got inspired by great writing. In addition, they did a lot of writing and re-writing. Students either started new pieces or brought with them existing unfinished work, which they developed and fine-tuned in class.

Pitching: In this session students learned how to pitch great stories to magazine or newspaper editors. The editorial process often begins with a pitch, and a great pitch often takes a lot of research and development. In this course they discovered what makes a winning pitch and were encouraged to find a unique story and design a solid pitch.

Power Dynamics and Media: This session built on what had been discussed earlier, and continued to develop the concepts of privileges and power dynamics. It enabled the students to better situate themselves as authors and producers of knowledge, and become aware of the impact they have on their audience. With specific tools, participants were able to reflect on their previous work and build more critical thinking when it comes to social justice and recognition of minorities.

Sharing session: All throughout the course, participants had been working on producing articles or other forms of stories, in order to apply the learning in a direct and concrete way. This last session served as an opportunity to reflect on the approach used in the course and share our work amongst each other.


Jenny Gustafson: is a journalist/writer and political scientist who has been in Lebanon since 2009 and reported from many parts of the Middle East, South Asia and Central America, including Bangladesh, Honduras, Guatemala, Sri Lanka, Libya, Algeria and Saudi Arabia. Her work often focuses on migration and development, and has been featured in, among others, The Guardian, Foreign Policy and Al Jazeera. She is one of the co-founders of Mashallah News, and has been co-editing the platform since it was founded in 2010. Jenny speaks Arabic, English and Swedish

Ibrahim Nehme: is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Outpost magazine. His work in exploring the possibilities of journalism and storytelling has been of international success, with The Outpost being referred to as ‘a successor to the Economist’ by The Guardian and harvesting top awards in print, journalism and cultural action. He founded Radio Mansion, a community radio experiment that was launched in Beirut in June 2018. He is also the founding creative director of ‘a Dance Mag’, a global dance publication based in Beirut. He is interested in building storytelling platforms that challenge mainstream cultural discourses and create space for alternative narratives to break through. Ibrahim has over 12 years of writing, editing and journalistic experience. He occasionally gives talks on how creative storytelling can lead to social transformation.

Angela Saade:is a co-founder of Jibal, and also of the French NGO Tabadol, both working on how to build an intercultural and diverse societies with equity and social justice at the centre. She has developed several projects, including trainings for youth, teachers and journalists on topics related to stereotypes, power dynamics and migration. Throughout the 10 years of work on these topics, she has developed a hands-on experience that enabled her to build strong knowledge and approaches for training and reflecting.  Angela also worked as a technical advisor for the youth program of the Lebanese NGO Mouvement Social. She holds a master degree in applied anthropology and in Engineering. She has experienced exile on a personal level, when she left with her family during the Lebanese war, and when she migrated to France for her studies. This has put her in a first hand position to analyse subject of migration and power dynamics in relation to it.