I am in Timor to help The Dili Weekly train six journalists to work as mojos (mobile journalists) during the March presidential elections.
The Dili Weekly is the country’s only bi-lingual newspaper catering also for the large contingent of expats living in Timor. Co-owner, Emanuel Braz, who grew up in Australia but whose family is from Dili, says the newspaper fills a need, “there was nothing to bridge the gap between nationals and internationals working in Timor-Leste who need to know what’s really going on so that they can make more informed decisions.’ Braz believes when it comes to vital communications it’s important for everyone to be ‘on the same page’.
Four years after its inception The Dili Weekly has grown to include an online publication that’s updated twice weekly. Braz hopes the mojo reports will provide his 10,000 unique online readers with a more immediate and dynamic response to breaking news. “This new technology is small and accessible and if it doesn’t get stolen (laughs) it should work to provide stories and regular updates from the communities.’
Mojos use powerful hand held mobile devices to enable complete control over story creation and publication, from even the most remote communities. The Dili Weekly mojos will be taught how to record, edit and publish digital news stories using an iPod Touch. Upload tests from media houses show speeds are slow with a one minute file taking about 45 minutes to send. But for a reporter living in Oecusse, a 10 hour barge ride from Dili, it’s a quick way of getting content back to the office and online.
Following the three day workshop mojos from Dili and the communities will begin filing raw footage and stories in the lead up to the elections. Once completed their reports will be uploaded from the media houses via WiFi to The Dili Weekly website. “I can see it working, for very little cost we are training a new type of journalist who has the power to create powerful stories cheaply and quickly’, says an excited Braz.