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Brief Report

IFJ-FES Training on

Expanding the Trade Union Training Capacity of Journalist Organization in South Asia

14-17 September 2007, Lalitpur


Background

The South Asian countries--Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are passing through various phases of political evolution. Pakistan, Bangaldesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal are confronting high political dynamics. Major fault lines of conflict are radical ideology, politicization of religion, cultural intolerance, competing identity projection, minority rights, sub-national conflicts and distributional struggle. Weaker sections of society, such as women, workers, poor and children are the most vulnerable to these multi-dimensional conflicts. Very often the victim hood is not reported in the media because weaker sections of society either lack political agency or ignorant or even fear the consequences. This has made the struggle of South Asian peoples for freedom, human rights and social justice ongoing affairs.

Journalists who report the vicious violation of human rights and conflict face risks on their personal life, liberty and professional career. Sometimes, the expulsion of journalists from the field have placed victim out of visibility and voice. Other times, trampling of media freedom by authoritarian regimes has hobbled the ability of media to bring information to a larger public sphere for effective political action. Structural freedom of media is, therefore, possible only in democratic societies and constitutional states which ensure media competition, professionalism and freedom of association of journalists to articulate and engage in effect collective action through their unions.

In this context, IFJ has organized international media campaign and solidarity action in various countries of South Asia to defend the rights of their members and general citizens and worked for the restoration of democratic institutions and political culture. It is also helping journalists to strengthen their capacity to defend the rights of public's right to know. The IFJ and FES, in this connection, organized a fourth follow-up meeting of the South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN) to build its cohesive network to support each other in common aspiration to improve and assert press freedom and rights of journalists in the South Asian region.

Objectives of the Training

Its broad objectives were to strengthen journalists' union in South Asia and build the capacity of its leadership.

Specifically it aimed to provide training in

  • organizing trade unions,
  • leadership and communication skills
  • understanding ethics
  • knowledge about conflict reporting
  • gender equity and the media's portrayal of women
  • interviewing children and child rights
  • sensitive HIV/AIDS reporting, and
  • Public service values in media.

Participation

Nineteen journalists from India (3), Afghanistan (2), Pakistan (3), SriLanka (1), Bangladesh (1) and Nepal (9) took part in the training program. Five of them were women.

Resource Persons

Christopher Warren (former president, IFJ), Jacqui Park (IFJ-Director for Asia-Pacific), Sam Grunhard (Project Director, IFJ), Sunanda Seshapriya (IFJ-Sri Lanka) Bharat Bhusan (India Today) and Sukumar Muralidharan ( IFJ-South Asia).

Training Methodology

The training was highly participatory. It applied visual presentation, lecture, role play, group work, presentation of country reports and group discussion.

Themes

The themes of the course were union leadership building, issues in unions, activities, collective power and action, using action method in adult education, active learning, successful role playing, the role of a trainer, debrief, using visual aids, roles and values of media, public service of media, editorial roles, promotion of equity, presentation of case studies and reports, etc.

Evaluation

Participants found the training program useful for their career and also for strengthening the South Asian Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN). They decided to plan for further action in the framework of following areas: a fair workplace, human rights, cultural diversity, conflict resolution, editorial independence, help journalism under pressure and strengthen solidarity network. The training agreed to prepare a South Asian Media Charter in the near future. It took stock of its solidarity action in Pakistan and agreed to become a part of the high level Media Mission in Nepal to promote freedom of the press. It also took stock of its previews works with FES and appreciated its continuous cooperation with IFJ. The participants also decided to prepare a comprehensive plan of action for the support and development of media and independent journalism in South Asia together with IFJ. In the evaluation of the program participants said that they will apply the skills they have learned in their unions and jobs as learning knowledge and acquiring skills go throughout life. The resource persons were also engaged in other media activities organized by Federation of Nepalese Journalists.

 
Copyright©2001. Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Nepal Office
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