7iber: Exploring a decade of transformative journalism

(Photos: Handouts from Lina Ejeilat)
From its humble beginnings as a voluntary citizen media blog in 2007, 7iber transformed into a professional journalism magazine in 2012.

The magazine, which now produces in-depth multimedia journalism, critical analysis, and public debates on various political, economic, social, cultural, and intellectual issues, started with a small team. Since then, the platform and the operation has grown exponentially. اضافة اعلان

In an exclusive interview with Jordan News at the 11th edition of the Image Festival, Lina Ejeilat, co-founder and executive editor of 7iber, discussed the significant milestones and challenges encountered during the 16-year journey of the publication.

Displaying a rich and unique collection, 7iber showcased the works of 14 journalists who have worked closely with the magazine. Each photo told a unique news story.

“Journalistic work is by nature governed by balances of power, sometimes visible and others invisible,” said Ejeilat.

Journalists, she added, can create spaces that enable them to work within these balances, as it is their job “to persevere, not give up, and try in every way to relate with issues that affect people’s lives and their reality”.

Throughout the years, 7iber has diligently presented these stories and issues in the most compelling and aesthetically pleasing manner, she said, underscoring the crucial role of visual narration and photography in their production.

Unearthing underrepresented stories
Ejeilat emphasized that 7iber's chosen form of journalism is not driven by the pursuit of breaking news but rather by unearthing the stories behind the news.

“We actively search for narratives from underrepresented places that often lack media coverage, which takes significant time and effort,” she said.

In addition to the commitment, sustaining this form of journalism poses an additional challenges, as the majority of their income is derived from projects funded by international institutions and a small portion from analytical services, training, and consulting.

Maintaining independence
For 7iber, maintaining their political and editorial independence has always been a top priority.

While they appreciate the contributions and support from various institutions, Ejeilat highlighted the need to diversify their sources of income, as relying solely on external funding is not sustainable.

“Our role is not just limited to producing professional and critical journalistic content; it also involves building the institutional foundation that allows their press to thrive,” said Ejeilat.

In the Arab media landscape, she added, the scene is dominated by government funds and commercial interests.

The exhibition at the Image Festival represents 7iber's experimental approach to generating income by offering photographs for purchase.

Ejeilat expressed that producing the stories they present often involves venturing outside urban centers, engaging with people, and conducting extensive research.

Readers, she added, may not fully grasp the effort behind each story, such as a recent report on fishermen in Aqaba, which involved four days in Aqaba for interviews, followed by an additional three days with a photographer to compile the report.

“7iber is not a news site but a magazine committed to producing daily in-depth stories,” she added.

Facing constraints
Ejeilat acknowledged the presence of many professional journalists in Jordan who face constraints related to production speed and commercial considerations.

7iber’s reader base, however, seeks thought-provoking and comprehensive reports that provide answers to their questions. Given that the platform, attracts diverse readers, including students, journalists, and academics, constant communication with their audience helps 7iber remain attuned to their readers' needs and preferences.

This is why “the magazine strives to present a well-rounded perspective based on factual and cognitive details,” said Ejeilat.

COVID-19, she said, cemented this need.

Recognizing the need for in-depth yet accessible scientific health journalism aimed at non-specialized audiences, 7iber translated topics from international newspapers and embarked on producing scientific stories that captivated readers both within and beyond Jordan.

This approach helped dispel rumors and misinformation and explained previously unanswered questions and ambiguous information, she added.

Shaping public discourse
Ejeilat acknowledged the challenges faced by their small team within the constrained space of media freedom. This reality extends to all media and journalism professionals. And Social media's influence on journalism cannot be understated.

Social media, she said, has played a significant role in shaping public discourse. However, it often amplifies fleeting news or bubbles that dominate public debates. While there may be pressure for 7iber to participate in these discussions, “we seek sustainability,” she said.

“We strive to have a business model that will continue,” she added. And despite the pressure to give into ad-only news or fast news, 7iber remains dedicated to continuing their discerning perspective and providing stories that matter.

Journalism, said Ejielat, is more than a technical profession; it intersects with fields like history, humanities, and literature.

“Journalists must be researchers and avid readers, always thinking within a broader context.”

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