Exiled newsrooms: How technology can help

Bektour Iskender, co-founder of the Kloop Media Foundation, explains his Prague Civil Society Centre Fellowship project, exploring when, why and how independent media outlets operate outside of their home countries.

Kloop is one of the most successful and innovative media outlets in Eurasia. Based in Kyrgyzstan, Kloop is not only a publisher, but also a journalism school, led by 14-25 year olds. Bektour Iskender, one of Kloop’s co-founders, now works on special projects and partnerships for the organisation and delivered a talk at TED 2016 on his story and independent media in Central Asia.

Bektour was selected as a Prague Civil Society Centre Fellow for 2017, where he will look at the idea of “newsrooms-in-exile”. He will develop a guide for independent publishers to help them understand the requirements of setting up in a different country, how they can stay informed and even grow their audience.

“Repressive regimes have shut down media for centuries,” Bektour explains. “Before the online era, it was almost impossible for media to revive in any form, because of harsh limitations on their access to airwaves or printing houses.”

“Today, despite the pressure, they can continue working if they constantly seek new ways of delivering information to their audience.

“There are more and more media in the former-USSR whose newsrooms work in exile or are based outside their country of origin. Examples range from the Russia-oriented Meduza, which is based in Latvia and whose work is open to the public, to outlets like Alternative News of Turkmenistan, whose exact location and the names of most of its contributors, are unknown.”

Talking about his work as a Prague Civil Society Centre Fellow, Bektour said: “My project will test methods that allow producers and media crews to work together smoothly, no matter the distance between them. Ultimately, a guideline for newsrooms-in-exile will be produced that will explain how to spread high-quality content to a wider audience with minimal risks for both readers/viewers and journalists.”.


About the author

Bektour Iskender

Co-founder, Kloop

Bektour is the co-founder of Kloop, an independent, youth-led media organisation in Kyrgyzstan. Kloop is one of the leading independent news websites in Kyrgyzstan and runs its own journalism school to train young people to cover politics, culture and run investigations. All of its reporters are between 14-25 and Kloop places an emphasis on technology-led journalism. As a reporter, Bektour extensively covered the Ukrainian crisis in the aftermath of the Euromadian protest. In 2016, Bektour won a TED fellowship and delivered a talk at TED2016.