By Marcus Malayea
Internews-Liberia, a media development international organization, on Wednesday, February 27, 2019, concluded a three-day intensive Electoral Reform Reporting training with more than 20 journalists from across the country.
The electoral reform training is part of the Citizens in Liberia Engagement to Advance Electoral Reform (CLEAR), a USAID-funded project that is designed to strengthen electoral activities and promote accurate media dialogues which inform, educate and engage citizens in the reform agenda.
According to the training, Internews is partnering with the Daily Observer, Bush Chicken (an online publication), and Local Voices (also online) to support 16 rural and urban reporters to become the nation’s leading electoral reform reporters. They will eventually be in a position to lead reports on elections across the country as part of the journalism fellowship component of CLEAR’s activities.
Internews has also involved journalists from The Inquirer and The New Republic newspapers that have been engaged in highlighting electoral reform activities over the years.
This exercise seeks to build the capacity of the Liberian media, to deliver community media forum which will enable citizens engage in electoral reform dialogues in order to achieve consensus building on constructive reform initiatives.
The training will empower journalists to report on electoral reform in a way that can resonate with all citizens.
“These should be educational, fact-based, balanced, constructive and able to enhance citizens’ engagement in the reform effort,” the training facilitators urged participants.
The CLEAR Fellowship program is expected to last for eight months, with each fellow being trained to write five electoral reform stories from their respective counties.
Relevant topics discussed during the three-day exercise include pattern of electoral reform, difference between elections reporting and electoral reform policy reporting, the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) Codes — objective and balanced reporting on electoral reform issues that reverberate with ordinary citizens, identifying fake news and fact checking.
At the end of the exercise, Internews Community Senior Media Advisor, Jefferson Massah, urged participants to take advantage of the training, adding: “After here, your electoral reform reportage, whether through Internews live interviews or not, you are the leading electoral reform reporters in the country.
“For journalists to acquire these kinds of training in other countries, they are often required to pay money before acquiring such wealth of knowledge. So please make maximum use of the training that will impact the lives of ordinary citizens,” Massah said.
Participants who spoke to the Daily Observer shortly after the training lauded Internews for the opportunity. They promised to put every knowledge acquired from the exercise into better use to benefit the citizens.
(Banner photo: Participants at the Electoral Reform Reporting Training, organized by Internews, in Monrovia. Credit: Daily Observer)