14.03.2017 - UNESCO Office in Nairobi

UNESCO Trains Journalists from Community Radio Stations on Using Internet for Reporting on Issues of Public Concern in Rwanda

Workshop participants from four local community radio stations in Rwanda gather in Nyamata to gain skills to use the Internet effectively to produce programming to report on issues of local concern, Copyright UNESCO 2017.

Nyamata, Rwanda - Supporting efforts to develop the capacity of local community radio stations in Rwanda and ensuring their sustainability, UNESCO organized a three-day workshop to train journalists on the use of Internet to report on issues of public concern from 14-16 January 2017.

The proliferation of local community radio stations in Rwanda since government deregulation plays a critical role in providing vital information to citizens and contributes to development, reconciliation and peace efforts at local, regional and national levels. Radio, which does not have the same electrical requirements as other media, nor does it require literacy, substantially helps to bridge the information and communication gaps between different socio-economic classes, regions (urban and rural), and men and women. Local community radio stations, however, are in need of support to develop locally relevant content instead of only entertainment, sports and other broadcasts that do not require investigative journalism. Developing the ICT skills of journalists who are employed, or volunteer their time for free, at local community radio stations is an essential ingredient to develop radio’s capacity to produce and disseminate quality programming.

The workshop, which was delivered by the Rwanda Telecentre Network (RTN), trained sixteen men and women from four community radios in Rwanda, 14-16 January 2017, including Radio Huguka 105.9 FM/107.4 FM (Muhanga District), Radio Isangano 89.4 FM (Karongi District), Radio Ishingiro 107.5 FM (Gicumbi District), and Radio Izuba 100 FM (Kibungo District). The workshop aimed to introduce the Internet as a source of information to produce programme content. More specifically, it provided journalists with hands-on skills to search the Internet, as well as how to make effective use of social media to interact with the radio broadcast audience.

The workshop achieved its expected outcomes. Journalists acquired hands-on experience how to use the Internet and other online tools, efficiently, innovatively and responsibly. They developed skills on how to better research, package and disseminate content on key issues of public concern for their local radio audience. Participants also gained substantial information on how community radio can better facilitate public debates. Furthermore, participants reviewed information and appreciated the risks and legal implications involved in sourcing information from the Internet. Finally, given the participatory and open dialogue format of the training, participants were able to discuss and share knowledge with each other on a variety of topics. In particular, participants discussed how community radios might better leverage ICTs to produce radio programmes and improve interactivity with the audience as well as facilitate public debates.

Opening the workshop, UNESCO Programme Coordinator in Rwanda, Mr Peter Wallet, underlined the vital importance of ICT and the Internet for journalists to conduct research and produce programming that is timely, relevant and meets high quality standards serving the local community and their needs. He however also reminded participants about the need for fact-checking and maintaining an objective methodology to information found online given the lack of Internet regulation. In other words, sources need to be scrutinized and a critical perspective should always be employed.

Based on feedback, participants stated the training was very useful for their daily work and would serve them effectively in the use of online tools. Of equal importance, social media in community radio was recognized as an effective means to Increase interaction between radio and their audience, especially youth.

The UNESCO ‘Empowering Local Radios with ICTs’ project aims to improve lives by bridging the gap between the poor or marginalized - especially women and girls, and the rest of the population. This is accomplished by raising local radio stations' programme quality emphasizing public debate on issues of local public concern. It is funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA). Launched in 2012, the project is currently in its second phase. By the end of the project (2017), 32 participating community radio stations in seven African countries including Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda will have improved their capacity to be able to provide improved social services and engage a greater number of sectors and demographic groups in their respective communities.

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