by Gerald C. Koinyeneh
Tubmanburg, Bomi County – Fifteen Liberian journalists from several counties in western Liberia including Montserrado County have benefited from a three-day intensive electoral reform reporting training in Tubmanburg, Bomi County.
The counties include Bomi, Gbarpolu, Grand Cape Mount and Montserrado.
The training is part of Internews’ Citizens in Liberia Engagement to Advance Electoral Reform (CLEAR), project which is funded by USAID and is designed to strengthen electoral activities and promote accurate media dialogues which inform, educate and engage citizens in the electoral reform agenda.
The training was concentrated on topics that included electoral reform; how to create a story angle in writing electoral reform issues, media and community engagements regarding electoral reform.
Participants were also trained to differentiate between electoral reform reporting and election reporting; while other best journalistic practices regarding the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) Code of Conduct and how journalist can use social media to enhance their reporting were highlighted.
Speaking to participants during the training, Internews’ Senior Community Radio Advisor, Jefferson Massah noted that since the launch of the CLEAR program, reporting on electoral reform has increased significantly and called on participants to take advantage of the training.
“We don’t want this training to be just like any other training where when the knowledge is gained, we don’t see any impact. We will monitor you and follow your activities to ensure that you meet the benchmark,” Massah noted
Meanwhile, participants lauded Internews for the training and vowed to implement the lesson learned at their respective media institutions.
“The training was very impactful; especially for us, the rural journalists. With the knowledge gathered, we will use it to improve our reportage,” said Charlesetta Goodlin of Rural Montserrado Radio.
Eric Morris Yates of Radio Cape Mount added: “I learned the differences between election reporting and electoral reform reporting, and how journalists can use the social media to enhance their reporting and the aspects that talk about journalists to not limit their sources, but always get diverse views are meaningful lessons that when we take in will boost our journalism skills.”
Saah Hudson of Radio Piso, also in Grand Cape Mount County averred: “The training was great and welcoming. It will enable us to report on electoral reform and give us the opportunity to partake in the upcoming community media forum. So, for me as an individual, the workshop was very fruitful and I will make maximum use of it.”
Internews is an international non-profit organization that empowers media worldwide to give people the news and information they need, ability to connect, and the means to make their voices heard.
Starting in September, 2015, Internews began implementing the five-year USAID funded Liberia Media Development (LMD) program which goals is to increase all Liberian citizens’ access to independent and reliable information, thereby empowering them to engage in well-informed public discussion of important issues of the day.
According to Massah, the CLEAR platform is part of the LMD program where Internews is partnering with the Liberia media to build the capacity of journalists to report on electoral reform policy issues in ways that citizens can understand.
The project, Massah noted is expected to train over 100 journalists from across the 15 counties of Liberia. To ensure a plurality of voices is reflected in the Liberian media in reporting on the national dialogue on electoral reform, Internews will work with the Liberia Media for Democratic Initiatives (LMDI), Local Voices Liberia (LVL), Bush Chicken and Daily Observer as primary CLEAR implementers.
He added that a nationwide reporting effort will include content sharing of stories on CMF’s and other CLEAR related activities to bring a spotlight to the work of rural journalists highlighting their work at both local and international levels; while at the same time benefiting the professional development of rural journalists.
In addition, 30 community media forums (CMF) will enable citizens to engage in electoral reform dialogue with the goal of building consensus on constructive reform initiatives.