MONROVIA, Montserrado – Twenty journalists from across Liberia are currently undergoing six-day elections reporting training in Monrovia.
Organized by Internews Liberia under the Liberia Media Development Program, the training began on October 26 and it is expected to end on October 31.
Participants of the election reporting training from radio, online, and print media were recruited in early August by Internews. [Full disclosure: the author is a participant of the training]
Speaking at the opening of the workshop, the program’s chief of party, Lien Bach, said the training would strengthen the capacity of Liberian journalists and empower them with the necessary skills and knowledge to promote fact-based, objective, and impactful reporting on the upcoming elections.
“I want to say that this is a very important program – a flagship activity of the election reporting program of LMD, funded by USAID,” she told the journalists. “So, for the coming week, you will have six days to be here and be trained on how to report on elections professionally and accurately to promote freedom, free and fair elections.”
After the training, the participants are expected to produce high-quality news articles to be published and broadcasted on various news outlets across the country.
Bach urged the journalists to produce balanced, accurate, and credible news stories on the special senatorial elections and referendum that will take place on December 8 across the country.
The workshop is divided into two parts: journalism and a hackathon. For the journalism training, the fellows were drilled through the Liberia electoral context, research-based journalism and storytelling, campaign coverage, gender-based coverage, basic skills for interviewing politicians, conflict-sensitive reporting during the election, voting day coverage, and mobile journalism.
The rest of the days will be used to sharpen the skills of the fellows about the use of digital media during the electoral processes. Electronic gadgets will be provided to the fellows to enhance their work.
The media program’s deputy chief of party, Jefferson Massah, said Internews would also organize 19 senatorial debates and 19 community media forums and engage with first-time voters.
“Our dream is to see a team of journalists that report on the elections extensively with high-quality news stories,” he said. “We will also work with them to utilize new media to tell stories.”
Massah disclosed that Internews has also hired three institutions, including the Center for Media Studies and Peace Building, the Female Journalists Association, and the Publishers Association of Liberia, to manage the fellowship.
At the end of the training, the fellows will be assigned to mentors to guide them through the production of high-quality stories. Internews’ international media advisors will also do a final review of the articles before publication. Local Voices, an online news outlet, will publish all articles, as well as the fellows’ own media institutions.
Last year, Internews trained at least 16 journalists as part of its Citizens Engaged to Advance Electoral Reform in Liberia project. The training was meant to strengthen their capacity to report on electoral reform in ways that resonate with citizens across the country.
Featured photo courtesy of Samukai V. Konneh