Women journalists trained on election reporting in Liberia
The Female Journalist Association of Liberia, in collaboration with UNESCO, has conducted a three-month project on political and elections reporting, including an internship programme for 20 young female broadcasters from community radio stations in Liberia. The training targeted women working within the community radio sector in rural Liberia who have not had the opportunity to participate in trainings before.
The main goal of the training was to empower rural media women in political and elections reporting considering the role women play in creating awareness and educating a country of 85% illiteracy rate.
During the opening session of the project, the coordinator of FeJAL, Torwon Sulonteh-Brown, recounted the challenges women face in the media in Liberia, ranging from marginalization to sexual harassment. She told the young female broadcasters that the only way some of these ills can be defeated is through empowerment.
Ms Brown told the participants that the training sessions, including the internship, were important because they were strategically located in areas where people depend largely on the media for information. She encouraged them to be focused during the programme and acquire all the knowledge available.
Launching the project, the first ever female President of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL), now Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, Elizabeth Hoff, focused on the importance of the training and its timeliness and urged the participants to consider the training a once-in-a-life-time-opportunity.
Hoff reminded them about their role as the watchdog of society and said it’s critical during this period in the country’s history because the electorates depend on them for accurate and balanced information that will lead to a violence free election in October 2011.
The workshop covered key areas, such as the 2011 general and presidential elections, interviewing techniques, investigative journalism, conflict sensitive reporting, political campaigning and the media, role of the media in elections, code of conduct for media, and voters’ education and media amongst others.
Following the three-day in house training, participants were seconded to six radio stations selected to host the young broadcasters for three weeks. They were the Catholic run Radio Station, Radio VERITAS, the state owned Radio Station, Liberia Broadcasting System (LBS), Renaissance Communication Inc., the Liberia Women Democracy Radio (LWDR), Infinity Broadcasting Corporation and Sky FM Radio stations. Participants were provided hands-on training on how to write radio script, how to use equipment, interview techniques and programme production amongst others. They were also involved in field trips where series of interviews were conducted.
At the end of the internship programme, two of the participants Ms Princess Kollie from Grand Bassa and Ms Williametta Jabbah from Grand Gedeh Counties, said this was the first time in their career they received hands-on training on what to do. They said that they were given the chance at their assigned places to write their own scripts, voice them and conduct interviews, something they were not involved in at their stations.