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Egyptian mojo winner joins crushed commuters on Cairo train

09/05/2019

Now in its fifth year, the Thomson Foundation mobile journalism ( mojo') competition, in partnership with Mojofest, has allowed journalists from around the globe to combine their interest in the issues affecting their world, with the storytelling opportunities afforded by a smartphone.

This year's competition attracted 154 entries from 55 countries, including the Solomon Islands and Taiwan and from Cuba to Guinea. The growing number of entries each year demonstrates how the mobile phone has enabled a new generation of journalists.

The winner is Mostafa Darwish (pictured below), a freelance visual journalist from Egypt who has previously only filmed with broadcast cameras and DSLRs. A smartphone was the only way for Mostafa to shoot as he boarded a congested train from Ramses station which is the main station in Egypt's capital, Cairo, to Ayat, the last stop in Giza.

Scrambling for standing space alongside other crushed commuters, and with little prospect of passions cooling, he attempted to report on the sharp fare increases to an inadequate train system, leaving millions of already struggling Cairo residents angered.

He used an iPhone 5s and the iMovie mobile video app to produce his visual story for the independent Egyptian online newspaper, Mada Masr.

Mostafa Darwish, a freelance visual journalist from Egypt, wins the 2019 Thomson Foundation mobile journalism competition

Mostafa's entry was not a typical news piece but we didn't feel that that was a weakness, explains Hosam El Nagar, competition judge and director of innovation and learning at Thomson Foundation.

It was more a piece of art. His choice of shots and the way he filmed them communicated a lot of love and empathy for his subjects to us as viewers. The story was told well and even though he did not focus on one or more individuals to show the impact of the fare price rises, he still managed to humanise it by his treatment which made every passenger a protagonist. For that reason the story felt richer and original and demonstrated an excellent use of the mobile phone as a medium.

Fellow judge and mobile journalism expert, Wytse Vellinga, also appreciated the interesting and unexpected shots from the train and Deborah Kelly, mojo trainer and head of training for the foundation, said: Mostafa tackled a subject important to people in a gentle way. He used great shots which didnt need words and the technical aspect was also very good.

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Speaking of his win, Mostafa said: I have won many things before, but all locally in my country, Egypt. This is my first international prize and it's a very special one for me. I'd like to film more stories in the future using just a mobile phone.

Mostafa will attend Mojofest in June as part of his competition prize. Together with the runners up, he will also be given free access to the Advanced Mobile Journalism online course from the Thomson Foundation Journalism Now e-learning programme.

The runners up, in no particular order, are:

Walid Batrawi, Palestine Filmed with an iPhone and using the Kinemaster app for his edit, Palestinian freelance journalist and trainer, Walid's story about his 50th birthday journey to his birthplace of Jerusalem gave us a sense of the city and what it means to him.

Helen Scott, editorial associate for Thomson Foundation and part of this year's mojo judging panel, described the film as intensely personal, evoking the wider story of the conflict and how it affects the people who would like to call it home. It was well shot with a clearly defined narrative.

Deborah continued: I loved this. The pace was great. It was told gently, without criticism but power. It was in the first person, technically interesting and the final shot was lovely as he revealed himself. Mojo expert and founder of Mojofest, Glen Mulcahy also thought the visual story was engaging and it made me want to visit Jerusalem.

Image credit: Mahmoud Nasser, Wattan TV

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KC Saranga, Sri Lanka Reporter for news and current affairs channel, TV Derana in Sri Lanka, KC Saranga focused his mojo story on one of the biggest environmental and socio-economic crises of rural Sri Lanka, the human-elephant conflict.

Long revered in the country's culture and religion, elephants have now become a symbol of conflict due to the impact of habitat fragmentation on the wild herds.

This remains an unresolved issue in Sri Lanka, explained KC Saranga who shot his video using a Huawei Nova 3 and mobile editing apps Kinemaster and Filmorago. This issue demands an urgent and sustainable solution through government intervention and my video was made to raise more awareness.

Wytse described the entry as a well-executed news story. It took into account the difficult circumstances of shooting. We see the people affected by the story, we see what causes it, the damage the elephants do and we see how the people try to prevent it. I think it was well done.

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Rejoice Ewodage, Nigeria Rejoice's mojo report Braving the Odds set out to address the rising number of young people being excluded from economic opportunities in Nigeria.

Using an iPhone 6s and InShot to edit her footage, she focused her attention on young workers in the crowded food markets of Nigeria, whilst calling on the government to harness youth potential, secure development and drive economic growth with inclusion.

I felt the need to highlight the daily struggles of ordinary young men and the huge role they play in the nation's food sector, said Rejoice. Given the right opportunities and an enabling environment many Nigerian youths can live up to, and beyond, their potential. This can have a positive impact on the economy.

She added: I hope the government will look into some of the issues highlighted i
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