Investing in the future of Solomon Islands media
Over four intensive weeks in February and March 2006, 42 participants from every media and communications organization in the Solomon Islands, as well as NGOs with active media programmes, attended training in radio presentation, sales and marketing, writing for news and investigative journalism.
Twenty-two of the most senior of the participants then continued on to do a Training of Trainers course, which included the production of a Trainers manual.
"We have started on the first mile", said Solomon Kilu as 14 youngsters from different villages of Tetere commenced their Media Training Seminar from 17th to 19th February, 2006. Solomon had himself only completed his two-week training as a media trainer one week before and was already repeating what he had learned to train the media workers at his community radio station.
Two years ago, the Media Association of Solomon Islands (MASI) identified an urgent need to take the initiative to improve media and journalism in the Solomon Islands. The way to do that was to ensure that trainers within the media community could handle local training whenever and wherever it was needed. Julian Maka'a, a well known journalist from the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Commission (SIBC) spearheaded the organisation of the training for MASI.
With the assistance of the UNESCO International Programme for the Development of Communications (IPDC) and AusAID, the MASI Training of Trainers initiative was born.
The Training Manual is based on the media skills training the delegates had just completed, and was reviewed and ‘re-constructed' by them their use with their own communities and organisations. The manual includes session plans, teaching materials, assistance in teaching techniques and other resources to run informal training in media and journalism.
To complete the project, MASI is organising three further training workshops to be conducted throughout 2006, in radio presentation, writing for news and investigative journalism, and will be conducted entirely by the recent graduates from the Training of Trainers.
Nicelyn Puia of PFNet, the regional on-line communications and news network, said the training was an ‘eye opener' and a ‘stepping stone'. Like most of the trainees, Puia said it was her first time to attend journalism training.
Journalists from the larger media organisations based in the Capital, Honiara, valued the reliable contacts they now have with trusted journalists from the provinces as well as their increased capacity to train their own journalists and media workers.
In closing the Workshop, Abel Caine, Adviser for Communication & Information at the UNESCO Apia Office, commented that "The Training Manual combines the world's best media practises with the unique perspectives of the Solomon Islands media industry/fraternity".
MASI, the participants and the media owners and managers lauded UNESCO for recognizing the role of media in national development and for helping MASI undertake a project that is considered the first of its kind in the Solomon Islands and one that will have sustained benefits for a long time to come.