IFJ-FES Training on
Expanding the Trade Union Training
Capacity of Journalist Organization in South Asia
14-17 September 2007, Lalitpur
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
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
- organizing trade unions,
- leadership and communication skills
- understanding ethics
- knowledge about conflict reporting
- gender equity and the media's portrayal
- interviewing children and child rights
- sensitive HIV/AIDS reporting, and
- Public service values in media.
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.
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).
The training was highly participatory. It
applied visual presentation, lecture, role play, group work,
presentation of country reports and group discussion.
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.
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.