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Nigerian Citizen Journalist Receives Major Press Freedom Award

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Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network –

On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, the Omidyar Network of Redwood City, California, announced the award of nearly $5 million in funding to four media-related groups involved in investigative and citizen journalism in the developing world.

The four groups are: African Media Initiative (Kenya): the SaharaReporters project (Nigeria); Media Development Loan Fund (U.S.); and the Committee to Protect Journalists (Africa programs).

Announcing the grant to Sahara Reporters, an online network of underground and citizen journalists operating inside Nigeria, Omidyar’s Stephen King said: “They put a lens on the Nigerian government by covering corruption, disbursement of oil revenues, and graft on a massive scale. [SaharaReporters.com] provides much more [information] than a newspaper or news outlet might. It’s a forum where controversial stories can be aired.”

Sowore Omoyele, founder and publisher of the NY-based Sahara Reporters, described the work of his group as far-reaching. “We had 1,700 reporters on Blackberry alone who volunteered to cover the [recent Nigerian] elections for us," he said. "They took smartphone photos of police repression and election violence.”

“We report events, news, and write reports of real time issues. It is our response to the failure – the refusal or lack of will on the part of professional journalists – to report real news to the people … SR is doing well in that regard. We have broken the sound and speed barriers of reporting authentic, evidence-based news.

“Omidyar Network believes a healthy government – one that is responsive to its citizens -- requires a healthy, robust fourth estate. By focusing additional efforts on fostering investigative and citizen journalism, we believe we will be catalyzing transparency efforts that will positively affect millions of people,” said King, who heads Omidyar’s global government transparency programs.

To date, Omidyar Network has committed more than $400 million to for-profit companies and non-profit organizations that foster economic advancement and encourage individual participation in the areas of microfinance, entrepreneurship, property rights, government transparency, consumer Internet, and mobile. To learn more about Omidyar Network, visit www.omidyar.com.

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