Rural Media Development for Promoting Democracy and Human Rights
- November 2017
This was a well-structured project which laid the foundation for a nationwide network of journalists concerned with human rights issues, particularly in rural marginalized areas. The project was relevant and much needed given the context of human rights abuses and the suppression of the media. It was also appropriate, although there are constraints there is sufficient democratic space for human rights influenced journalism since journalists were able to write about a range of human rights issues and call duty-bearers to account. The project also met its objectives: the skills of journalists in relation to human rights issues have been enhanced, reporting on human rights has increased, and civil society capacity to understand how the media works has improved – though closer engagement between NGOs and the media could be further strengthened.
Lessons from Project
The grantee collected rich and interesting data but was let down by not analyzing this data sufficiently to provide evidence of progress. Moreover, the overall M&E system needed more coherence, so that projects are able to measure the same indicators at the beginning and the end to show progress. This could have been done in various ways, for instance, by using the same framework for baseline and endline data collection, or by pre and post training questionnaires.
The training participants came from key local players – representatives of national, regional and local media outlets – mostly from the printed press. The involvement of television, radio, new social media could be increased in future incarnations given the influential role of these media modalities.
The training gave a wide understanding of all dimensions of human rights, both civil-political and socio-economic rights. This led to a rich and interesting diversity in articles produced by journalists. While this was interesting some participants had a tendency to equate all human interest stories and criminal acts to human rights stories (for instance, the abduction of a new born baby from a hospital ward by a disturbed individual or a case of a child murdered by a private individual) but without making clear links to the accountability and responsibility of duty bearers.
The training materials and techniques were effective. The training was based on a standardised 57 page training manual covering everything from training techniques through to democracy and human rights issues, the international and local context and laws, human rights mechanisms, the security and responsibility of journalists, defamation, use of social media, and professional skills – preparing, authenticating, cross checking reports, handling sources etc. The training involved a combination of lectures, group work and field visits.
The project was output driven. The participants came away with concrete published articles at the end of the process. In addition, the award and competition for best article held in both years of the project, 2015 and 2016, did much to invigorate human rights reporting by participants after the course was over and in a cost effective way.
The training itself was well-structured and involved separate training sessions for journalists and CSO/NGO representatives followed by joint sessions of both groups plus editors. The content itself was highly engaging and relevant to participants teaching them about human rights but also building their professional skills; and involving both theoretical and field based training.
The project was well designed – it targeted 12 of the most marginalized districts in the country, this was a manageable number, and meant that implementation was achieved without the grantee becoming overstretched. While there may have been other ways of designing the project e.g. concentrating resources geographically, or on specific issues or beneficiary groups, the design helped create a foundation for national geographic coverage and visibility and also meant that a wide variety of human rights issues were covered instead of specifics relevant to particular localities only e.g. coastal fisherman or tribal hill communities.