In Tanzania, Small Community Radio Stations Flourish, Boost Ratings after Training and Mentorship

Staff at one of Internews’ smallest community radio partners in Tanzania say they are delighted to see their hard work recognized in a prestigious survey by the University of Dar es Salaam and Zurich University of Science.
The 2019-2020 Yearbook on Media Quality in Tanzania assessed program quality at thirteen local and national radio stations and announced that Micheweni Community Radio (MCR) was best overall.

“We’ve been more vigilant, trying to generate better local content,” said Station Content Manager Gaspery Charles. “We always believe our programs can make a difference in our listeners’ lives. To see our efforts acknowledged this year is a real inspiration.”

Station manager Ali Masoud Kombo added that Internews’ Boresha Habari project helped them with training, mentorship, and equipment. “Without their support, we would not have done so well.”

Partner Safari FM motivated to improve

Safari FM, another Internews partner station, earned third place in the Yearbook’s category assessing best use of sources.

Safari FM’s Deputy Editor Baraka Jamal says he was motivated by the stations’ poor showing in the 2018 Yearbook. “When Internews pointed this out to us and suggested how to improve, it was a real eye-opener. From then on, we took things a lot more seriously and started adhering to Internews’ guidance on sources and other vital editorial standards.”

Partner Highland FM focuses on ethical journalism

Highlands FM’s Head of News Samuel Ndoni says that previously, “Our stories were one-sided and based on whatever we found online. We didn’t care about stuff like ‘the right of reply.’”

But they then took advantage of Internews’ training and mentorship and changed how they work. “… these days, before sharing content with the public, we check it and apply all the ethical principles of sound journalism,” says Ndoni. Highlands FM scored number 5 out of 13 radio stations in the category of producing content based on their own initiative.

“As journalists, we tend to act like we know everything, we get stuck in a rut, there’s no progress,” said Highlands FM journalist Mwanaisha Makumbuli. “But, I found that discussing my work in the training helped me hone my skills and, as a result, I like to think that I helped my station to shine in the latest yearbook!” 

Such good showings in the Yearbook are all the more remarkable considering these stations are small community outlets competing with well-established national broadcasters.

Internews’ project in Tanzania, Boresha Habari, is funded by USAID, and implemented in partnership with FHI 360. It seeks to support an open, inclusive environment in which media and civil society provide accurate and impartial information that promotes participation, inclusion, and accountability.

By Internews trainer Ali Mwadini, with Alakok Mayombo and Temi Mahondo