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Published on December 19th, 2013 | by EJC

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Helping Citizen Journalists Cover Mozambique’s Elections

This article was written by Douglas Arellanes and originally published at Sourcefabric on 4 November, 2013. Republished with permission.

@Verdade, Mozambique’s leading newspaper, will be the first to use Citizen Desk 1.0 as they cover local elections November 20. The newspaper launched its election-coverage site on the 4th of November at eleicoes.org.mz.

The polls come amid escalated tension and renewed violence between the government and opposition forces in the African nation.

Mozambique is a country of roughly 24 million people on Africa’s eastern coast. Formerly a Portuguese colony, Mozambique gained independence in 1975. But the country has had difficulties preserving the transparency necessary for a functioning democracy. Mozambicans struggled through a 15-year civil war that ended only in 1992. Unresolved tensions from that war are fueling the recent attacks.

It’s difficult to hold elections in this kind of environment. That’s why @Verdade is enlisting the help of its thousands of readers across Mozambique to help make sure the electoral process is not abused.

Photo: @Verdade and Sourcefabric

Fast, Safe Verification

To do this, @Verdade is using Sourcefabric’s Citizen Desk 1.0, which lets the newspaper quickly verify and publish reports from citizen journalists on the state of polling. Readers can send their observations, photos and videos to @Verdade editors via social media or even SMS.

What’s new for the Mozambique elections is the workflow related to verification, where an @Verdade editor monitors the incoming reports and then assigns them to staff members for follow-up.

If and when the editors are convinced of the reports’ veracity, they can then quickly incorporate these contributions into regional and national live blogs. This gives users worldwide up-to-the-minute reports on the polling process and other news affecting the elections.

The election-coverage site also features live blog coverage of each individual province and of the country as a whole, profiles of the candidates and an interactive map, so users can follow developments nationwide as well as take a closer look at polls in each of Mozambique’s 10 provinces.

@Verdade was the first news organization to use Citizen Desk, employing users’ reports from around the country in their election coverage in the spring of 2013. Mozambique is scheduled to hold general elections in October 2014.

We will keep you posted on developments in Mozambique and let you know how well Citizen Desk helped @Verdade when we announce a public roll-out in the coming weeks.

About the Author:

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Douglas Arellanes is an American expatriate who has lived in the Czech Republic since 1992. He is one of Sourcefabric’s co-founders and its director of innovation. He’s been working on Internet-related projects since 1993, has had two tech startups, and also hosts a regular music show focusing on global indie pop on Radio 1 in Prague.

Photo: Maanskyn

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