Meet the El Kul team
El Kul is our digital media platform covering Libya, providing trusted news and information, uplifting stories about society and culture, and a platform for debate. Meet some of our team.
El Kul is a Libyan social media platform with over 1 million followers. A team of Libya-based freelance reporters and Tunis-based BBC Media Action content producers make daily El Kul content that promotes the inclusion and participation of women in society and tolerance of diversity amid the conflict.
Our quantitative research shows that El Kul’s daily content, made to BBC editorial standards, has reached over 1.7m adult Libyans, or approximately 25% of the adult population. El Kul was ranked as one of Libya’s top five most active Facebook pages by MASAE in 2018. A monitoring survey of almost 700 audience members in March 2020 showed that 81% of audience members feel El Kul produces balanced content, 79% believe that El Kul covers issues that are important to their lives and 53% discuss El Kul content with family, friends and others.
With the global outbreak of COVID-19, our work has been focused on providing Libyans with accurate COVID-19 related health advice in line with WHO standards, and impartial reporting about the Libyan response to the crisis that dispels myths and rumours. We aim to provide a sense of shared experience, community and social connection at a time that can be divisive and isolating.
First to report on COVID-19 - and a scoop
El Kul was one of the first Libyan media outlets reporting on the pandemic before the first case in Libya was announced. The El Kul team scored a scoop when producer Mohamed Aljabu made contact with a Libyan student at Hubei University in Wuhan – the epicentre of the COVID-19 story. The student chose to stay on in Wuhan because, in his words: “it’s more important to stay on and do what I can to help the citizens of Wuhan”. He told El Kul that he had received so much help and support from the people of Wuhan that now he felt it was time to give something back.
Traditionally, Arab students studying in China take Chinese names to make communication easier. Hafez said he had changed his Chinese name to Wuhan as a message of support. The post on El Kul’s Facebook page made an immediate impact. Within the first hour alone it had received more than 400 reactions, 168 comments and 42 shares. By December 2020, it had been viewed by more than 228,000 people.
The path ahead
In a conflict where public institutions are barely functioning, access to timely and accurate information is extremely vital. So is the presence and sustainability of independent media outlets. However, it remains very challenging for independent media platforms, like El Kul, to attract support that does not affect their impartiality.
Threatened by media polarisation in Libya and the negative financial impact of COVID-19 on the media sector, El Kul is exploring ways of sustaining itself beyond its donor funding. However, amid all uncertainty and limited funding sources, it remains extremely challenging.
Meet some of the team who are working hard to continue to provide audiences in Libya with vital information, and help to mitigate the consequences of conflict and of COVID-19, while supporting Libyans on their struggle for a peaceful and prosperous Libya.
Ghufran Ashor, Business Manager
Under Gaddafi’s rule, Libyan state-owned-media controlled what was presented, when it was presented and who to present it, creating a history of distrust towards media in Libya. Upon the fall of Gaddafi’s regime in 2011, numerous media outlets emerged to replace the state-owned one.
Although the fall of the regime marked the end of media censorship in Libya, my distrust in media, like many Libyans, remained. This was not a surprise because Libyan media were mainly sponsored by local and foreign players in the civil conflict, trying to push political agendas through misinformation, disinformation and rumours.
In 2014, when “home” was declared a war zone, I left. But my family and friends stayed. Although I still did not trust media, it was my only way to see where and how my loved ones lived. Through local and international outlets, all I saw were shattered families, destroyed homes, and a crippling economy. I couldn’t see a future for Libya or my young siblings who were still living there.
As different media outlets bombarded me with negative news about Libya, I discovered El Kul (‘For Everyone’). Through El Kul, I could see a more positive image of Libya, and the possibility of a better future for my siblings. It shared content celebrating achievements and showcasing diversity. And as I watched, my perception and attitude towards Libya’s future changed.
Years later, I became part of this team that introduced me to Libya through a different lens. I now contribute to their work every day in hopes of a brighter future for Libya and its talented and diverse youth.
Mohamed Aljabu, Digital Content Producer
I used to think that I had learned all the basics of media from my previous experience in this field. At the age of 18, I started as a television presenter, then a talk show presenter, and gradually became a writer for some Libyan and Arab newspapers. I then pursued my undergraduate and postgraduate studies in media.
Over the past 10 years, I have been involved in editing news, writing articles, conducting investigative journalism, and programme preparation and presentation. When I joined BBC Media Action, first as a trainee and then as a digital content producer, I realised that I had to rethink my goals and aspirations.
Once I started working with the El Kul team, I recognised my creative capabilities and started thinking outside the narrow confines of a traditional box. Previously, I worked in traditional media which echoed official activities and agendas. Now, I am working in a modern media platform that interacts with the audience and serves their goals and aspirations.
I have moved from lengthy and detailed writing, using eloquent and flowery terms, to working in simple recognisable language that touches people's feelings, echoes their thoughts, and meets their expectations. This is the everyday language that everyone understands.
Thanks to BBC Media Action, I have learned how to benefit from technical developments, in order to be influential among young people, and to help my country, which is suffering from the ravages of war. This is what I have been working on for more than a year now. My experience with BBC Media Action has expanded my horizons and pushed me to progress further, as I am still learning from my colleagues and trainers. Our mission is to support our audience to live in greater peace and security.
Wanssa Altamtam, alumni and freelance reporter
I work for El-Kul as a freelance journalist providing digital content.
I have been interested in media since my childhood. I graduated from the College of Law aiming to collect legal information and texts that protect women's rights, and make these more accessible to regular people, through media and communication including articles, videos, graphics, and interviews.
I always say to myself that I was fortunate to get involved in the El-Kul 2014 and 2017 training on digital media coverage and the principles of impartial media. Since then, we have all been working as part of a team. For us there is no difference between South, East, or West. All that counts is Libya and its meaningful stories.
I am interested in communicating these stories in a way that differs from the stereotypical images often portrayed by Libyan media, in accordance with official agendas, parties and policies. More traditional media are often indifferent to vulnerable groups and especially to women, whose role in the political and economic process and in decision-making is generally overlooked.
Our aim is to treat both men and women equally and provide them with equal opportunities.
Mohammed Alsabber, Digital Content Producer
I began my career in media five years ago, as a radio broadcaster and programmer, and later as a field reporter in Libya. Since 2016, I have been working with BBC Media Action, initially as a trainee with El Kul – BBC Media Action’s independent online news service.
When I applied, I already knew about El Kul’s work to train journalists in writing, commenting, presenting and other skills through watching and reading its content. The training has given me many new skills and enriched my existing experience. I was trained to write news and articles in an impartial way, and given advice on how to present them. I have also learnt new skills in photography, directing, producing and preparing the studio for filming. This initial six weeks of training provided not only useful information, but also the opportunity to make new friendships with the trainees, trainers and the BBC supervisors.
As a freelance reporter for El Kul, my job was to transfer a full picture of Libya to El Kul’s digital platform. I have sent many written reports, photos and video clips from my city, Awjila, and many others, looking at Libya’s diversity, history, heritage and the peace process.
In late 2019, I moved to BBC Media Action’s North Africa office in Tunis, to work as a digital content producer. This is a job that requires a lot of concentration, intellectual skills and good relations with others.
Along with my colleagues, we have produced many stories for El Kul that deal with issues related to women, diversity, immigration and gender. In this last year, we have found ourselves covering COVID-19 - an issue that has affected the whole world. I believe El Kul is important in providing digital content with a modern approach to narration, which moves away from traditional topics.
Each day, we try to cover issues that are relevant and interesting to citizens of Libya. These issues depict their everyday life and shed light on their suffering and expectations, with the aim of broadening their thinking and building understanding. Many of the issues we address are of a kind that our audience never thought would appear in local media.
I’m proud of the work we are doing to reach our audiences with topics that matter.
El Kul is funded by the FCDO, Dutch Embassy to Libya, Danish Refugee Council and UN Women.