Homegrown Journalism in Darfur
The LAT's Edmund Sanders profiles Awatif Ahmed Isshag, the 24 year old who represents local journalism in Darfur:
EL FASHER, SUDA--For Awatif Ahmed Isshag, covering Darfur is the story of her life.
Nearly a decade ago, at 14, Isshag started publishing a handwritten community newsletter about local events, arts and religion. Once a month she'd paste decorated pages to a large piece of wood and hang it from a tree outside her family's home for passersby to read.
But after western Sudan plunged into bloodshed and suffering in 2003, Isshag's publication took on a decidedly sharper edge, tackling issues such as the plight of refugees, water shortages, government inaction in the face of militia attacks, and sexual violence against women.
Her grass-roots periodical has become the closest thing that El Fasher, capital of North Darfur state, has to a hometown newspaper. More than 100 people a day stop to check out her latest installments, some walking several miles from nearby displacement camps, she said....
"She represents the only indigenous piece of journalism in Darfur," said Simon Haselock, a media consultant with Africa Union in Khartoum. "She's got energy and drive. It's exactly what they need."
Readers say her magazine, called Al Raheel (which roughly translates as "Moving" or "Departing"), is one of the only places they can read locally produced stories about issues touching their lives.
"It's the best because this magazine shows what is really happening in Darfur," said Mohammed Ameen Slik, 30, an airline supervisor who lives nearby.
Isshag complained that despite international attention, the suffering of Darfur remained vastly underreported inside Sudan. There are no television stations in the area, and most newspapers operate under government control or are based hundreds of miles away in Khartoum.
"The local media don't cover the issue of Darfur," she said. "We hear about it when one child dies in Iraq, but we hear nothing when 50 children die" in Darfur.
Read the whole thing.