Write With Us
The articles we publish are at the core of the advocacy work we do to help advance and protect digital rights across WANA countries, and it is driven by people like you. We seek articles that contribute to knowledge-production or cover recent news in areas at the intersection of technology and human rights, including but not limited to:
- Access to the internet, information, and communications technologies
- Freedom of expression and censorship online
- Surveillance, privacy, and security
- Policy, regulatory and legislative developments affecting human rights in the digital space, i.e. cybercrime laws
- Discriminatory and harmful policies and practices by private sector actors such as tech platforms and telecommunications companies
- Internet shutdowns
- Content that can be harmful to society, individuals, and communities such as health misinformation, political disinformation, defamation campaigns, and hate speech
- Internet governance developments (at the international, regional, or local levels) impacting digital rights in the region
- The human rights impacts of advanced technological developments such as Artificial Intelligence and smart cities
All articles must cover a digital rights issue in a country in the WANA region. Articles about Algeria, Libya, Iraq, and the Gulf are highly encouraged.
Reliable and accurate sources are the backbone of our editorial work. All submitted articles must include at least two interviews with experts in the field (researchers, technologists, journalists, activists, etc.) or members of a relevant organization. Please check out our Writing and Reporting Guidelines for a detailed, step-by-step guide on how to write for SMEX.
We recommend that you take some time to read through the articles we usually publish on our website before sending your pitch.
All published articles are paid.
Writing and Reporting Guidelines: Short Version
What are the stories published at SMEX?
Our stories cover issues at the intersection of technology and human rights in the Arabic-speaking region. We write about a myriad of topics relevant to digital rights including, but not limited to internet access and internet shutdowns, data privacy and security, internet law and policy, surveillance, freedom of expression and speech online, and online misinformation, and hate speech.
Who reads our stories?
The news we publish is relevant to every internet user, but it is specifically helpful for journalists, human rights defenders, civil society actors, technologists, researchers and academics interested in digital rights topics. It also targets technology corporations and governments whose policies and laws directly impact society.
How to write with us
The general format for stories published on our website include: headline, lead, context and background, analysis, and conclusion. We usually follow the Inverted Pyramid format to structure our stories.
This format of reporting helps the reader grasp the core of your story within the first few seconds of reading. It’s important to lead with the most critical aspects of the story (lede), then move on to providing contextual background and analysis.
Short and direct headline that states a fact and specifies the country covered.
A lead (the opening lines of your piece) should grab the reader’s attention in the first 30-35 words. The lead should be specific and explain the topic concisely while keeping the reader interested in the rest of the story.
The five Ws (who, what, where, when, why) of journalism are the building blocks of your story. They ground the reader and introduce the topic by stating the most important facts. Most of these Ws should be answered in your lede or the first few paragraphs. Answer the most important W in the opening paragraph, then elaborate on the rest throughout the article.
After the lead comes the nut graph. It explains, in a nutshell, the point of the story, why the reader should care, and why they should continue reading. It can be formulated by asking: Why is this story significant? The nut graph is the “So what?” paragraph of the story.
Almost every article should be divided into sections with short, attractive, and informative subheadings.
Contextual and background information
Contextual and background information is always required. Every article should explain the country-specific background for the story and why it is relevant to us today.
The analysis is diffused across the article and answers the questions: what does this mean? How will this change, such as a new law or policy, affect digital rights? What are the real-world implications of a certain threat, such as online hate speech? Etc.
Keep the analysis as objective and impartial as possible.
Don’t leave readers hanging in mid-air after reading your article. Tell them what is expected next, warn about the future implications of an event, and when possible, offer recommendations that align with our values and human rights standards.
Credibility and accuracy
Always make clear who and what your sources are. If the claims appear in another digital or print publication, make sure to fact-check them for accuracy.
Claims need to be substantiated with links that are judicious, and from primary sources that are trusted and well-established.
Hyperlinks / Links
All information should be linked back to the original source through hyperlinks.
Attribution is specifying who said something so readers know where the information in the article comes from.
In most articles, our authors reach out to (two or more) entities whose perspective matters to the story. These could be experts or they could be someone who has been affected by a specific event, law or policy.
For effective interviews, reporters should prepare carefully, and ask questions that induce the source to talk freely. Questions are directed at obtaining information on a theme that the reporter has in mind before beginning the interview.
Anonymity is a last resort. Identify sources whenever possible, and question sources’ motives before promising anonymity. Anonymity should only be used in situations where the information provided risks the safety and wellbeing of those reporting on the story or those involved directly in the events.