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Libyan boy starts his own news agency, elbowing past foreign correspondents

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Darrin Zammit/Reuters

(Read caption) A boy plays with a toy gun as rebel soldiers address potential recruits for the Libyan rebel forces in Tahrir Square in Benghazi, Libya, on Aug. 25. Fourteen year old Malik Mohamed (not pictured) is armed with an official press pass and interviews Libyan rebel officials for his own Brega News Agency.

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• A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.

Since the uprising began in Libya six months ago, hundreds of foreign reporters have descended on the rebel capital in the east. In the midst of them, at nearly every press conference held by the opposition council, one can find Malik Mohamed, a slight 14-year-old who has started his own news agency.

Malik looks much younger than his age, but he holds his own amid all the experienced foreign correspondents, wearing his official press pass and pushing his way through hordes of journalists to get photos and ask questions of rebel officials. After a recent press conference by the rebels’ military spokesman, Malik followed him down the hall, where the official put his arm on the youth’s shoulders and engaged him in a private chat.

Malik publishes his stories and photos on the Facebook page of his Brega News Agency. Since he’s too young to drive, he takes taxis to the press conferences or gets his dad to drive him. He recently published a story about the visits of Moroccan and Tunisian foreign ministers to Benghazi for discussions with the opposition leaders. Malik also covers the story of wounded rebel fighters, going to the hospital to interview them.

“Since I was a kid I loved journalism,” he said after a recent press conference. “I used to take photos with my phone of news events. When the revolution began and foreign press started coming here, I was really interested in working with them.”

He says he wants to eventually become an international correspondent in the US – but he’ll have to learn English first. Malik begins high school next year. He doesn’t mind being younger than all the other journalists in the room, he says.

“I love what I’m doing,” he says. “I don’t care if I’m younger than everyone else.”

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