CAIRO — As a tentative calm settled over Egypt in mid-October, 17 Egyptian and American journalists fanned out from the streets of Cairo to the Pyramids of Giza to report on the country’s “unfinished revolution” as part of a fellowship created by GlobalPost and the New York City-based Open Hands Initiative.
Filmmaker Oliver Wilkins documented the program, including a three-day seminar featuring seasoned journalists working in the region, and followed several of the reporters out into the field. The group was also privileged to host US Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson and potential Egyptian presidential candidate Ayman Nour in a formal dinner celebrating the work.
Wilkins’ work captures the intensity, complexity and collaborative spirit of the trip, which was carefully planned to give fellows the best possible chance to find the "stories behind the story" of the revolution.
Most of the Egyptian journalists present had taken part in the early January days of the uprising, and continue to serve dual roles as journalists and activists. And most of the Americans had followed the events in Egypt with a mixture of fascination and envy from afar, wishing they could be covering the revolution firsthand.
The fellowship offered first-hand knowledge to those who had none and perspective to those who had plenty. For the Egyptian journalists who had lived most of 2011 with little sleep, immersed in one of the world’s great stories, it was a time to reflect and find greater context. For Americans finally putting their feet on the ground in Cairo, it was a chance to dive in and find the "ground truth."
The 25-part Special Report the fellows produced, “Tahrir Square: Egypt’s Unfinished Revolution” lays the foundation for GlobalPost’s continuing coverage of unprecedented changes in Egypt in the run-up to its first free elections in decades. GlobalPost co-founder and executive editor Charles Sennott has begun work on a series that explores the role of the Egyptian military in these unfolding events.
Many Egyptians now see the military, led by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), as a brutal overseer standing in the way of democracy. The series will be published just before January 25, the one-year anniversary of the popular revolt’s beginning.