Democratic Dialogue through Media in Sierra Leone
The project aimed to build capacity of local media in Sierra Leone to facilitate a national dialogue among civil society, government and citizens. It targeted primary beneficiaries that included: journalists from radio and print media who were awarded fellowships and trained in investigative journalism through production and publishing human right stories; NGO grantees; and local communities targeted through forums and workshops to increase public knowledge on the role of the media in human rights protection and promotion.
The project responded to a need for improved democratic dialogue, and correctly identified the need for enhanced democratic debate as a precondition for entrenching democratic values and policies in post-war Sierra Leone. It also correctly identified the media as a key player, both as a space to “host” that debate and as a provider of substantive information. However the project’s relevance was reduced by its failure formally to engage with editors/publishers and with relevant high-level institutional actors. The project document lacked a complete analysis of the stakeholders, their respective needs and the various messages that should be addressed to them. Nevertheless, the project contributed to establishing a critical mass of journalists aware of human rights reporting and of the challenges of balanced political reporting.