How Young Pakistanis Are Sharing Their World on Bolo Jawan

How Young Pakistanis Are Sharing Their World on Bolo Jawan

Want to know about changing trends in Pakistani weddings? Interested in reading an appreciation of the talents of rising video blogging star Irfan Junejo? Or perhaps reading an open letter to the citizens of Pakistan and India about rising tensions in their relationship?

Welcome to Bolo Jawan—which means “Youth Speaks” in Urdu—a unique website that seeks to give young Pakistanis the opportunity to write about life from their point of view, something frequently missing from the country’s established mainstream media.

The website was set up by Pakistan Youth Change Advocates, which set out to create a forum for citizen journalism in Pakistan’s increasingly fragmented media environment, one that gives space to the voices of the young.

The site was launched in October last year, in parallel with a series of workshops and seminars organized by Pakistan Youth Change Advocates for students across Pakistan. Over 800 young people took part in the training sessions, which focused on the importance of accuracy and fact checking in a world where social media can spread hate speech and false stories with sometimes terrifying speed.

Bolo Jawan was born into a media world that has been changed drastically by social media. The media landscape in Pakistan has also become increasingly fragmented since 2002, when there was only one state-run television channel in Pakistan.

The importance of social media in this context can’t be overstated. Research conducted by Pakistan Youth Change Advocates in 2015 found that with rapid internet penetration and the introduction of smart phones, young Pakistanis—who comprise the vast majority of social media users—largely rely on their phones as the primary tool [PDF] by which they exchange information, coordinate social movements, mobilize, educate, and even fundraise.

The overwhelming majority of university-educated young people in Pakistan already engage in citizen journalism, simply by reporting what they see in their daily lives on popular social networks such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. Still, if they are to become the responsible citizen journalists of tomorrow, there is an urgent need to equip these young people with the necessary skills to evaluate the logic of a claim or the fairness of an argument.

Bolo Jawan and the related training programs aim to fill that void. Since the site went live in October 2016, it has featured over 400 posts (text and video) from the participating students and other members of civil society. The site is gradually building an audience; to date, it has reached over 39,000 page views and nearly 14,000 active users.

Rather like Buzzfeed, it seeks to mix together both highly popular (“Three Eateries Creating a Lot of Buzz in Islamabad”) and more serious political pieces (“The Threat of Extremism in Our Universities is Real and This Is What We Need to Do to Curb It”).

Ultimately, the content reflects the diverse interests of Bolo Jawan’s citizen journalists. It’s a voice that must be heard.  

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4 Comments

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How much TRUTH can be conveyed when the treacherous GEORGE SOROS and his affiliates are involved. Bolo Jawan and it’s users will be exposed to the twists and turns of “FAKE NEWS”causing many of the 14,000 participants to be led astray. Sooooo, how good is that??? There are too many minds already which have become “BRAIN DEAD” due to the propaganda of “FAKE NEWS”.

Dear Melvin,

The term "fake news" was coined to refer to online news stories that were deliberately made up, usually for political purposes, an issue which became particularly fraught during the 2016 US Presidential elections. It does not mean news analysis that you do not agree with, although it has been used in this way by the current US President.

We do not and would never support any project that involved making up news - as opposed to sharing diverse and sometimes critical opinions and analysis. I think if you take the time to read Bolo Jawan, which is available in English, there will be plenty of the latter, and none of the former.

Many thanks for contributing your critical view to this page - this is exactly the kind of debate that Open Society and its founder George Soros believes should be encouraged.

Best wishes, Jonathan Birchall, Communications Officer, Open Society Foundations

If it isn't already obvious to everyone it is to me. The internet and the cell phone is equivalent to the invention of the wheel.--or the printing press-- and gun powder!

I am kind of shocked to read the title "treacherous" heaped so casually on George Soros, whose philanthropic and other social services for humanity across borders is not a secret. Yes! All news that one doesn't know about or appear not familiar ought to be researched before assuming that it doesn't contain any truth. Or is completely "True." That's the whole idea for sharing such news that one makes critical assessment. I am heartened to know that such a website as "Bolo Jawan" exists. Thanks Open Society,

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