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Training /Workshop on "Civic Education Reporting for Mid-career Journalists"

Organized by National Media Development Center (NMDC)

16-17 March, Baitadi


Summary

National Media Development Center (NMDC), in coordination with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Nepal -a German Foundation, organized a training/workshop on "Civic Education Reporting for mid-career journalists of Nepal" on 16-17 March, 2010 at Gothalapani, Baitadi, Nepal. This was first of this type of training targeted to the working journalists in Far West Nepal. The main objective of the training is to enhance the capacity of peripheral journalists on civic education reporting.

District journalists are entitled to report on all areas though they lack resources and capacity development opportunities. Therefore, theme focused programs such as Civic Education reporting provides multifold benefit to local journalists and put greater significance at local level. Such programs put direct impact to the participants and citizen. This FES Nepal supported program has encouraged mid -career journalists of Far West Nepal in civic journalism. Together with journalists, this program provided awareness to local citizen of Baitadi about democracy and the rule of law. Such high level programs are rarely organized in such a remote district. They learned the importance of civic education and the role of media to educate local citizen by providing authentic and verified information.

There were 25 mid-career journalists working both in print and electronic. They were from Darchula, Baitadi and Kanchanpur districts. The presentation sessions, reference materials, class exercises and news reporting techniques were beneficial for them. According to them, this training/workshop opened their eyes and they will change on the modality of traditional event based political reporting.

Swikriti Parajuli, judge of Baitadi district inaugurated the program. FES Chief Dev Raj Dahal, Administrative Court Chief, Kashi Raj Dahal, Chief District Officer Keshab Raj Ghimire, NMDC President Bishnu Prasad Sharma highlighted on the objective and theme of the two-day program. President of FNJ Baitadi branch Narendra Bhatta chaired the session.
The two day program was organized in different sessions such as- Inaugural, Presentation, Class Exercise, News reporting, Evaluation and Closing.

Inaugural Session

President of Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) Baitadi Branch Narendra Bhatta chaired the Session. District Judge Swikriti Parajuli was invited as chief guest of the program. Chief District Officer of Baitadi District Mr. Kesheb Raj Ghimire, Local Development Officer, Chief of the Nepal Army and Armed Police Force at Baitadi, teachers and professors of the local college were present as guest at the inaugural session. Head of FES Nepal, Dev Raj Dahal, Chairperson of Administrative Court, Kashiraj Dahal, NMDC President Bishnu P. Sharma, Media trainer Shree Ram Khanal were invited to the podium. There were 25 participant journalists representing from Kanchanpur, Darchula and Baitadi districts.

President of NMDC Bishnu Prasad Sharma introduced the objective of the program. "This two day program is more theoretical than practical. However, it will also focus on civic education reporting techniques, he said." "Media people inform the citizens responsibly without involving in government mechanism. The duty of the journalist is to find out the truth and inform the citizen by providing verified information", he said. "Journalists should be impartial in informing the citizen. They should report impartially about the strength and weakness of the government. This two day training/workshop will highlight on the principles of democracy, role of media, and how journalists should report on civic education", he said. This program focused on civic education reporting will certainly be beneficial to working journalists of Far west Nepal, he concluded.

Chief Guest of the program, District Judge Swikriti Parajuli inaugurated the program.

Head of FES Nepal, Dev Raj Dahal addressed on the key objectives of the two-day training/workshop to provincial journalists. Introducing FES, he said it is working in 125 countries in the world.

Mr. Dahal said, "In the context of Nepal, FES is supporting to strengthen relations between state and society through interaction, dialogue and publications." "The society is enriched with knowledge, it is essential to analysis and conduct research", he said. " We need to establish rights based approach, people should be sovereign, there should be political stability and democratic constitution should be drafted. These issues needed to be raised by the local media. They should cover local issues" he said. "Media should report on religion, language, drinking water, food shortage responsibly that makes the citizens informed" highlighting the role of journalists, he said. Focusing on the media importance Dahal said, "Its role is to provide knowledge that supports on citizen's solidarity. Media is a watchdog. As we are in transitional phase, media should view the 'world' through 'word' so they should be careful in selecting the 'word' it can direct towards solutions, minimize conflict and support the citizen." "The Nepali media should attempt to make principles and theories interesting to increase the reading habits of Nepali leaders", he concluded.

Addressing at the session Chairperson of Administrative Court, Kashiraj Dahal said, "now we are in constitution drafting process. Journalists should not only campaign on constitution making process but they should also study the content and they should be analyzed". He stressed on the point of nationality while talking about federalism. Media should always report on national unity and nation building, he said. "To make people responsible on their duties is civic education. Media plays important role in informing the citizens about their rights and duties", he concluded.

Chief District Officer Keshab Raj Ghimire, Local Development Officer Yadu Prasad Panthi also addressed the session. Both of them asked the journalists to write for the protection and promotion of language, culture, art and history of the country. Media should be authentic they stressed.

Addressing the Inaugural Session, District Judge Swikriti Parajuli said that civic education is associated with every aspects of human life.

Narendra Bhatta Chairperson of the session and President of FNJ Baitadi branch thanked FES Nepal and NMDC for organizing the program at Baitadi district. He also said that it was first program at Baitadi targeted exclusively for journalists. He also briefly informed the audience about the problems such as communications, electricity, and transportation that local journalists facing in the district.

Presentation and Discussion Session

The tow-day program was divided into paper presentation session, local problem identification session, news reporting exercise session and discussion.

Day 1 ( 16 March 2010)

First Session

Program Coordinator and media trainer jointly started the session with introduction and expectation collection. After expectation collection, discussion was held on the topic of " Challenges of Rural Journalists in Nepal: Local Experience and National situation. Media Expert Bishnu P Sharma, and Media Trainer Shree Ram Khanal jointly moderated the session.
All participant journalists from Darchula, Kanchanpur and Baitadi actively participated at the session. They briefly mentioned problems and difficulties of provincial reporters. The problems were different as per the geographical location. Reporters working at Kanchanpur do not feel the same problems as faced by a local reporter based in Darchula. However, the nature of the problems is similar. The major challenges of district journalists working at Far West Nepal as they face are as following:

1. Inaccessibility of transportation and communication;
2. Lack of resources and modern communication tools such as computer, fax and internet. (Stll journalists of Darchula have to go to Dharchula (India) to send a Fax.)
3. Killings and threatens;
4. Unavailability of capacity building/training opportunities;
5. Information hiding culture at local government offices, corporations and institutions;
6. Lack of study and coordination among the working journalists;
7. Less number of readers;
8. Lack of coordination among the journalists between center and district.
9. Opportunities centralized at the center

Concluding the session both resource persons highlighted on the needs of coordination among the journalists during reporting. Another tool to enhance the capacity is the habit of self study that promotes reporting knowledge and quality.

Second Session

The second session was presentation session. Kashi Raj Dahal presented a paper on " Principles of Democracy, Nepali Democracy, Challenges and Role of Media in safeguarding Democracy". Before presentation the participants were divided into two groups and they were assigned to present their views on the given two topics. The topics were:

Journalists were then asked to add required points on the given topics. The major points they suggested were as follows:

Group 'A':

Topic: What are the principles of democracy and how they should reflect in constitution?

1. Freedom of press and people's rights to expression;
2. Guarantee of human rights;
3. Meaningful participation of disadvantaged group;
4. Rule of law;
5. End of impunity;
6. Periodic election;
7. Selection of head of state through direct election;
8. Independent judiciary;
9. Impartial distribution of resources
10. Independent Commissions

Group 'B':

Topic: What is the Role of media to institutionalize democracy and educate citizens?

1. Make aware citizens on their rights;
2. Educate people on democracy;
3. Inform the citizens about their rights and duties;
4. Practice citizen journalism rather than individual;
5. Lead on the discussion on the common agendas of the constitution;
6. Give attention on the benefit of nation and people;
7. Provide verified information;
8. End of partial journalism;
9. Develop professional and credible journalism, and
10. Respect journalist's code of ethics.

He explained on the given and other important aspects of the democracy, federalism and role of media. At the end of presentation, Dahal said, " professional and impartial media support in building democracy and establishing peace in the country." He gave many thought provoking examples that were linked with nationalism, national unity, citizen's duty and role of media. Mr. Dahal's paper is attached in the annex.

Third Session

The third session was a practical session. In this session, media trainers explained about the media reporting trends on civic education. He gave many local and national examples that were published in local and national papers. Nepali media both electronic and print are dominated by leader and event based political reporting. Even in Kathmandu, reports on citizen's issues such as drinking water, sanitation, price of most important items e.g. vegetable, sugar, gasoline are given less priority than the speech of political leaders. It was discussed that district media also follow the same trends.

After discussion, participants agreed on the importance of giving priority on local issues that are directly connected with daily life of the citizens. What's the meaning of a banner news about the speech of a leader in local newspaper published from Darchula where people are queuing for hours for one kilogram of salt ? Local media should cover pain and gain of local people.

It was also discussed about the impact of the news. Journalists raised several time about the scarcity of drinking water in Baitadi, but the authority did not pay any attention. In such a case, it was suggested that the journalists should continue in reporting through different perspectives. While giving news they should write on different angles. There should be investigative reporting on source of water, technical part, financial sources, corruption, implementation etc, and then the authority will be compelled to listen the voice of the people.
At the end of the first days session, participant journalists were divided into five different groups and they were asked to select a topic on civic education to write news that they had to present the following day. First day was concluded providing assignment to the participants.

Day-2 (17 March 2010)

Session One

Group Presentation

The session started with assignment presentation. Each group presented news reports they were assigned for. Field visit was not possible due to time shortage however, each group had an effective presentation. Media trainer provided necessary feed back on each presentation. It was concluded that they still had to exercise to improve on news angling, lead selection, and language and news presentation style. Feed back helped them to identify their weakness and opportunity to improve in future writing.

Session Two
Chandra Dev Bhatta, Program Officer of FES Nepal presented a paper on "Civic Education: Principles and Theories and Role of Media". He started his presentation by providing glimpse of Nepali media, media industry, opportunity, economic relations and its impact on professionalism.

Explaining about civic education he said, "civic education seeks to introduce citizens to the basic concepts of democracy, and provide them knowledge about democratic rights and practices."

He further said," civic journalism recognizes the fact that the journalist is a citizen first and a media professional second."

"Media should be open to all people regardless of their standing or position in the society, he said. Mass media is now becoming an integral part of the society as family, religion and schools are becoming weak, he mentioned.

Many journalists actively participated in the discussion and expressed that the presentation benefited them to identify different reporting angles on civic education. Mr. Bhatta presented in local language so that it became more interesting to the local journalists. The paper is attached in annex.

Session Three

Shree Ram Khanal media trainer lead the session on "Reporting Techinque on Civic Education". The session focused on class work and news writing on civic education. He focused on citizen journalism that makes journalists responsible on several aspects of the citizens. This civic journalism concept prioritize journalism not only as 'watchdog' but a ' guide dog' means journalists should also guide the citizens. He explained about the argument that journalist should report stories and issues from the perspectives of ordinary citizens rather than articulating the view points of senior political figures or local elites.

During practical session he explained about 5WH as basic questions that a reporter should be aware. He also explained about the three methods such as visit, interview and investigation that are essential for news collection. He also informed on the role and effect of media in the society. The key note of the presentation is given annex.

After presentation, the journalists were asked to figure out news headings on civic reporting. They were assigned to write headlines and a paragraph of news on the selected topic. After class exercise, participant journalists presented the headline and a paragraph of the news they prepared. Trainer provided necessary feed back on their class work presentation. This session provided elaboration on news writing styles and techniques on civic issues.

Training Evaluation

Training evaluation forms containing 16 questionnaires were distributed to the participants to collect their views about the training/workshop. Most of them have expressed that this training was fruitful. They gained knowledge on the principles of democracy, civic education, civic journalism, role of media and reporting techniques. They have suggested that the workshop period was too short where they had no time for field reporting which is an effective method.

Closing Session

A brief closing session was organized at the end of the session. Participants also spoke on the effectiveness of the workshop/training. According to them this short workshop helped them to identify civic angles while writing news; they gained knowledge on different aspects of civic education, democracy, roles and duties of journalists. According to them, this program became successful to open their mind to report on different aspects of citizens. They also learned major reporting techniques and principles of democracy and civic education and role of media. And, the reference materials were useful for them.

Addressing the session FNJ President thanked the FES and NMDC for giving an opportunity to coordinate and organizing the program at Baitadi. He expressed his hope that FES and NMDC will continue their support in enhancing the capacity of the provincial journalists. NMDC President expressed his commitment to continue such rural based programs in the remotest districts in Nepal. Thanking FES Nepal for their support to enhance the capacity of provincial journalists on civic education, he requested them to increase their support in the coming days for similar other remote areas of Nepal where it is really needed.

Conclusion:

Program with the participation and presentation of national figures and experts on national issues in remote region targeting local media reporters is a historical event. This type of programs are rarely organized. Such program not only provides an opportunity to learn and experience the feelings of local people to the organizers but also provides chances to local citizens to learn many things from the experts. NMDC prioritize to bring such programs at the remotest districts that leave visible and measurable impact. FES Nepal's support has further encouraged NMDC.

The first program organized at Baitadi became successful and fruitful to the journalists of Mahakali zone. The commitment of the journalists to write on civic journalism is another success indicator of the program.

Presented by: Bishnu Prasad Sharma, NMDC

 
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