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Bedour Al-Mutairi is a Kuwaiti journalist who has been writing since a young age, when she wrote for the weekly Majid magazine as a child. In 2004 she joined the Kuwaiti Newspaper Al Watan. She won the award for the best economic journalist in Kuwait in the year 2011, before joining the BBC Arabic Network in 2018 after participating in a training course organized by the network.
While working at BBC Arabic, she began a Twitter account dedicated that quickly garnered a large following. In 2018, Al-Mutairi was selected for the fifth round of the IJNet Arabic Mentoring Center for Media Startups in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in hopes of turning her account into a more formal media project. Through her participation in the program in 2018-19, she turned her Twitter account into an online-only newspaper after the trainers and mentors explained the importance of having a website in today’s media environment.
The website, Berwaz Newspaper focuses on similar topics as the Twitter account, covering the economy, politics, sports and culture, all with relevance to Kuwait. She currently has seven full-time staff — four editors and three reporters — from Yemen, Algeria and Egypt. The publication continues to grow with more readers monthly.
“The number of readers is increasing daily, and there are non-Arabic speakers who read what we publish because we added a translation service to the newspaper's website,” said Al-Mutairi. “We have content about Kuwait, the world, the economy, politics and health, which encourages readers to visit our website daily.”
We spoke with Al-Mutairi about her work growing her news outlet, challenges she encounters and advice for other entrepreneurs.
IJNet: How long have you been following IJNet, and what have you learned from it?
Al-Mutairi: I started following IJNet two years ago, and I have benefited from the tools that they publish, the articles and also the opportunities that they share whether through the website or social media platforms. I learned about the Mentoring Center for Media Startups through IJNet, so I applied, and now I have my news website Berwaz. It has become a reality in Kuwait which publishes stories on the same level as prestigious publications in the country.
Did the Mentoring Center lead to a turning point in your career?
I am still at the stage of establishing and building sound foundations for the online publication, which are based on professionalism, credibility and providing good content to Kuwaiti and Arab readers. I have a plan to develop my work during the year 2020.
During 2019, I worked with the team for 14 hours a day, and we gained a lot of skills related to digital media and new technologies. We developed a plan to become one of the most important Kuwaiti and Arab news websites in 2020, including the launch of our app. We will also establish a new section related to women’s affairs, work with specialists to hold conferences and webinars and add an artificial intelligence feature to Berwaz.
What challenges do women journalists face in the Arab world?
Those who work in journalism faces a lot of challenges — and not just women. The most pressing of these challenges are disinformation and misleading news. Therefore, I believe journalists have to focus on credibility and trust-building with the audience.
Credibility is the main pillar of our newspaper’s work. We are working to establish a long-term relationship with the readers, so we check the news before publishing. We care about correct information and not the speed publication.
What are the most prominent platforms you use to distribute content?
I use Twitter, Facebook and the application Nabd to help distribute content. I also use multimedia in my work because it is one of the most prominent tools required in the world of journalism today, which most readers want to see in their content. The team designs the videos and other content on their own to attract an audience, and they always strive to develop their skills.
What advice do you have for other people launching a startup?
I believe that everyone who has an emerging project should strive to achieve it, and not despair. Always search for distinguished training programs to help make plans to implement your project, such as what I did to achieve my dream through the Mentoring Center.
Al-Mutairi wrote an article (in Arabic) about what she learned through her IJNet training, "How can reporters use crowd-sourced media?"
Main image courtesy of Al-Mutairi.