Cairo, Egypt - The Multimedia Journalism Capstone presentations at the American University in Cairo were held on Tuesday, April 4, 2017. Students involved highlighted the most problematic and neglected socio-economic issues in Egypt today in an effort to raise awareness through solutions journalism.
The jury consisted of three members; Professor Kim Fox, Sarah El Sirgany and Amira Ahmed, who are working journalists. Ahmed could not physically attend due to an undisclosed emergency, but her insightful feedback was available and was delivered by Professor Fox. Presentations were also met with great criticism from an alert and active audience that voiced their opinions and ideas on the importance of the matters at hand and on the students’ research and journalism skills.
Baher Shawki kicked off the event with #EscapismEgy. Shawki discussed the drug abuse culture in Egypt and the implications that such habits can have on the overall physical and mental health of the Egyptian society. #AswanCures followed, speaking about the mental and physical ways that one can benefit from being in Aswan, since according to Mariam Gabr, “people living in cities are more prominent to mental illness, like schizophrenia and mood disorders.”
#WasteNotWasted explored the lengths taken by the garbagemen of Egypt to recycle and transform the waste produced by us in the urban environment in Egypt. #Class_Size_Matters created another buzz within the event. The group received many merits for their investigative nature and ability to penetrate the infamously confidential environment surrounding Egypt’s public schools, through accessing the Ministry of Education.
#EGYInformalEcon wrapped up the round of projects with their take on just how much the informal sector in Egypt affects the legitimate side of the economy. Surprisingly, most of the transactions, especially in food related businesses, come from undocumented exchanges from buyers and sellers. This also ignited many audience members to pitch in ideas and efforts on how such an issue can be tackled.
The award winning presentation, #HerEconPower, discussed the the role and empowerment of women in the Egyptian economy then followed. This was one of the more relevant issues covered which enticed many audience members to join the discussion, such as Jacob Wirtschafter, a freelance journalist. He jumped in and commended the students for their analysis and selection of the matter, giving them some tips on how to make their argument stronger, such as telling them they “have to put the narrative together with data.” Mr. Wirtschafter’s expertise was later requested upon the final judgement of the presentations.
Ultimately, the presenters all had a uniting factor in that Egypt, despite being in the 21st century, is in urgent need for reformation in several vital sectors in its society. In hindsight, these prospective journalists showed passion and determination in promoting where and how Egypt needs to change.