GV Board Elections 2020 Volunteers’ Rep. Candidate: Ahmed Medien

Ahmed Medien is from Tunisia. He has been a contributor to GV and GV Arabic GV French lingua since 2011. Ahmed’s passion for (citizen) journalism was sparked by the 2010 uprisings in Tunisia that led into the Arab Spring, when, at age 18, he began working as a journalist for a local English-language news website. Ahmed has launched two e-commerce businesses that employed a large number of people, including a Tunisia-based nationwide service venture of Jumia, the African e-commerce giant. While at university, Ahmed received a number of awards including scholarships from from the US and the British governments. Ahmed was a Chevening scholar in 2017. He now works for Hacks Hackers, an organization with the mission to build a coalition between journalists and technologists to support credibility online and curb the challenges of misinformation at large and in science.

All candidates in the 2020 board elections have been asked to answer the set of questions listed below. Feel free to ask Ahmed additional questions in the comments area below this post!

What appeals to you most about the prospect of serving on the GV board?

I have been a member of the Global Voices community ever since I attended the Third Arab Bloggers Meetings in Tunisia in 2011 as a citizen journalist . The community has been very welcoming to me. It enriched my beliefs in the role of free media to build up  and defend democracy. GV and the GV community catapulted my professional career as well in media development and connected me to many pressing issues and wonderful opportunities in my life.

As a board member, I plan to support GV continuing to play this role of nurturing its community and developing new skills and serve as a catalyst to launch members’ careers in areas that are interesting to them or affect their lives. As a board member, I’d like to use my vote as well to steer more funding and more projects towards Middle East coverage and other niche coverage of topics (e.g. business, health, science, climate) that are of interest to the larger community. As a quadrilingual, transcontinental-dwelling member, Across both Africa and North America, I am excited to represent and convey the voices of a large number of people and their ideas back at the decision-making table.

What talents, skills, connections, and expertise can you offer Global Voices in your role as board representative?

The most talent I can bring in making myself available to listen to the community’s feedback and convey that clearly back to the leadership and other GV stakeholders. The GV community is big. It encompasses regional editors and sub-editors, newsrooms that cover unfolding events, lingua, advox and rising members who write about stories that are not reported in mainstream media and people who need our attention and support. My job is to act as a catalyzer of opportunities, connect these smaller communities with each other, find means and ways of collaborations and launch new projects either ongoing projects and initiatives by individual members or external projects from different stakeholders in the GV orbit.

I work right now as a project manager for Hacks Hackers, an organization with the mission of building large communities of journalists, technologies and researchers around quality information and curbing the challenges of misinformation. We fundraise to fund organizations and projects that aim to strengthen credibility online. As an internet entrepreneur and self-starter, I fundraised before to launch businesses and put myself through university in the best universities in the US and the UK. I plan to use my network and expertise to help community members fundraise money to launch their own projects and enlarge their network.

As you look ahead to the next three years, what, in your opinion, should be GV’s overarching priorities as an organization?

In the past few years, perhaps the words “equity” and “social justice” have come to the front of our collective conscience in our media reporting, in our business transactions and in the political narrative. The recent Covid-19 pandemic continues to reveal the divide in our societies across many lines. Many world leaders are emphasizing the well-being of societies as the principal measure of the health of their economies and societal foundations instead of GDP.

This is a new breaking taxonomy for many people around the world. I will work so that GV prioritises this line and focus of reporting with its thousands of its volunteer contributors next to traditional topics of media, politics, digital privacy issues and civil liberties. How are they linked? Can we make a dent in changing local policy by creating a movement or an alignment of ideas around posts that start off the many GV platforms? How can good local journalism affect policy and societal stance on issues? I believe GV should move to ponder on these questions and act on them.

What aspect of GV’s work interests you the most?

As a community member with strong opinions on the several aspects of life that touch all of us mainly how the media cover the economy, democratic institutions, policy, culture groups, nation-building efforts, etc. and its impact on the well-being of our societies, I am taking immense interest in the Civic Media Observatory project that is looking to make sense out of local sentiments and media narratives. It is built on a foundational element of the GV editorial structure which is local knowledge and the dedication to inform and spread awareness about local issues that may soon turn to be global.

As I have turned my career focus to fact-checking and supporting credibility online in newsrooms and open-knowledge platforms through the wikicred.org grant initiative, I’m interested in GV’s role to identify malign cognitive attacks that pollute our media environment right now and has the potential of destabilizing democratic institutions.

What would you like to get out of this board service experience, both professionally and personally?

I believe I always had it in me that I want to represent other people’s voices. I have been a political canvasser in different countries at several different election cycles and I’ve always been active in student executive body elections as a student myself. As a young member of the board, I’m excited to learn more about the intricacies of running a large organization with thousands of members across the globe, aligning community and organizational priorities and taking part in shaping an organization that means a lot to me personally and that have shaped most of my professional career in some form.

Personally, I only had more than wonderful interactions with the leadership and many fellow candidates who are running right now for the board. I would hope that these bonds will take us to collaborate more in the future. I definitely want to lead by example and show to the youth in my region, and who are at the start of their career, that building and nurturing communities lead to fruitful outcomes and that they also can run for a board seat and participate in the decision-making.

How will you fit board service into your personal and other professional work commitments?

I came of age during the booming of the digital workspaces in the early 2010’s with the surge of tools like Slack and G-suite which were developed for dynamic careerists like myself who can balance remote work and still find time to be engaged in other communal activities. Luckily for me, like many in the GV community, I chose a line of work that aligns with the values and mission of Global Voices and its members. I consider my board service as an extension to my professional work and my employer is supportive of me joining the GV board. I will make as much time to read emails and listen, reply to emails and be available for remote voting.

What methods would you use to engage and listen to the community in order to represent them effectively at board level?

Having worked before overseeing departments of customer operations, you’d be surprised how fast I can get back to people’s emails to solve their problems. No problem went unsolved overnight. My email address will be available to everyone who would like to reach out and I will be available to listen to their concerns or connect them to the person who is the most suited to help them. I am going to listen and act to share your voice with the larger community and leadership. I am going to keep tabs on feedback from the community and how much of it was fulfilled. Periodically, I will push to publish Community Feedback Insights Reports to inform the larger GV community of all improvements made and how we, as an organization, are responding to their concerns.

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