Building capacity of indigenous journalists in Thailand and Cambodia to advance indigenous peoples’ rights
The two basic journalism trainings were organized in July and September 2015 in Surin Province in Thailand and in Phnom Penh in Cambodia. During those trainings, the participants were introduced to journalism and communication, to the role and responsibilities of journalists and to a methodology on how to make and structure a story.
Ms Nittaya Mee, a founding member of the Indigenous Media Network (IMN) in Thailand who benefited from the training, said: “the journalism training conducted in Surin province in Thailand enabled the organization to expand its membership and to create a pool of indigenous journalists making the network’s presence more visible in the Northeast region of Thailand.” She also added that this visibility will be increased with the establishment of the website imnvoices.com, because through this tool the trainees can share stories from their own communities to a wider public.
She mentioned that the training was also helpful for the local indigenous communities because some of the trainees were able to immediately apply their skills and produce reports and stories relevant to their communities. Five participants from the training reported also to the second assembly of the Council of Indigenous Peoples of Thailand (CIPT) which has now 190 members with five representatives from each of the 37 indigenous groups across Thailand, established to promote the rights of indigenous peoples in Thailand.
Mr Samin Ngach, an indigenous activist from Cambodia, also reported that the basic journalism training conducted in Phnom Penh enhanced the skills of indigenous media professionals and fostered closer collaboration between indigenous media professionals and other indigenous peoples’ organizations.
The IPDC project also enabled AIPP and its members, through the organization of public fora and dialogues, to bring together different stakeholders, including government officials and leaders of the indigenous communities in each country, to raise public awareness about the rights of indigenous peoples and to advocate for a more inclusive policy.
IPDC is the only multilateral forum in the UN system designed to mobilize the international community to discuss and promote media development in developing countries. The Programme not only provides support for media projects but also seeks an accord to secure a healthy environment for the growth of free and pluralistic media in developing countries.
UNESCO publishes report on safety of Journalists in Kenya, based on the UNESCO Journalists' Safety Indicators
It is crucial that journalists can safely access and produce information both online and offline. Assuring the physical and psychological well-being of journalists has become a pressing issue in Kenya. The study finds that Kenyan journalists face serious challenges in the course of their work with both State and non-State actors contributing to an increase in number of threats, incidents of harassment and intimidation as well as legal and personal attacks in the country.
In spite of these incidents, Kenya has a number of innovative initiatives to address the issue such as the development of the Safety and Protection Protocol for Journalists by Media Council of Kenya which prescribes mechanisms of ensuring safety and protection of media practitioners and promoting of dialogue between media and security institutions in Kenya.
The study was conducted by African Media Initiative (AMI), in consultation with UNESCO. This activity was funded by UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Programme on Development of Communication (IPDC) which is a multilateral forum in the UN system that not only provides support for media projects but also seeks an accord to secure a healthy environment for the growth of free and pluralistic media in developing countries. It was carried out within the efforts of UNESCO to “promote an enabling environment for freedom of expression, press freedom and journalistic safety in Kenya.”
The report was developed through a multi-stakeholder engagement and consultation process that included a media stakeholders meeting held on 22 May 2015, which provided a platform for participants to plan the study’s methodology and the responsibility of diverse actors relevant to the media sector in Kenya. A second consultation meeting was also held on 23 February 2016 to review the draft study report and implementation of the recommendations therein. A peer review exercise of the study was also carried out before its publication.
The UNESCO Journalists' Safety Indicators is developed within the context of the endorsement of the UN Plan of Action on Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity. It serves the purpose of pinpointing significant matters that show, or impact upon, the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity. It also allows for mapping of key features that can help assess the extent to which journalists are able to carry out their work under safe conditions, and determine whether adequate follow-up is given to crimes committed against them.
To download the publication in PDF format please click here.
Moderated by Ms Albana Shala, Chair, UNESCO International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC), the panel included well-known experts such as Professor Divina Frau-Meigs, Professor, Université de Paris 3-Sorbonne nouvelle, France. Ms Duygu Özkan, Journalist, Die Presse, and Member, Austrian Press Council, Austria, Ms Amukelani Mayimele, outgoing Executive Director of ZAYRAH, a youth led development agency, South Africa and Mr. Brandon Oelofse, Senior Trainer and Coordinator, Radio Netherlands Training Center (RNTC).
Professor Frau-Meigs reminded the audience of how often in recent history emerging media have been blamed for causing radicalization, hatred and violence. She therefore highlighted the need to understand that there is no cause-effect relationship between Internet and youth radicalization.
In certain contexts, radicalization should not even be seen as a negative phenomenon, “because youth needs to be radical” stated Ms. Mayimele who used the example of Nelson Mandela’s radical movement in his early days.
Professor Meigs explained that ideology or religion are rarely central factors in radicalization for violent extremism, and that the context, psychological and external factors play always an important role. While social networks can be amplifiers and facilitators, they rarely trigger radicalization. The offline world and individual experiences remain the key to understanding radicalization processes.
Combatting the spread of online hate speech, extremist propaganda and recruitment for terrorism and radicalization ills should not be at the expense of freedom of expression, underlined Ms. Ozkan and Mr Oelofse.
Panelists also discussed possible solutions for current use of the Internet as a vehicle for hate-speech and, although one size does not fit all, they agreed that Media and Information Literacy (MIL) can empower young people to use media critically. Intensified efforts are therefore necessary in this field.
Ms Shala played then a video on the online harassment of female sports reportershttps://youtu.be/9tU-D-m2JY8, which shows the offensive language that is commonly used on-line against women. Participants then discussed how to effectively counter those who use the Internet to disseminate hatred with awareness-raising messages.
IPDC encourages proposals in the following focus areas:
- Supporting media pluralism (particularly community media) and independence (improving self-regulation and professional standards)
- Promoting the safety of journalists
- Countering hate speech in media and social media, promoting conflict-sensitive journalism practice and/or promoting cross-cultural/cross-religious dialogue among journalists
- Supporting law reform that fosters media independence
- Conducting media assessments and research based on UNESCO’s Media Development Indicators (MDIs), Gender Sensitive Indicators for the Media (GSIM), Journalists’ Safety Indicators (JSI) or Media Viability Indicators (VMI).
- Capacity building for journalists and media managers, including improving journalism education (using UNESCO´s Model Curricula for Journalism Education).
Project proposals should request support for a minimum of US$ 10,000 and a maximum of US$ 35,000.
Interested media or media-related organizations are invited to contact the UNESCO office covering their country for more information. For the list of UNESCO offices, please click here.
Every year, the IPDC Programme supports an extensive range of media development initiatives in developing countries around the world. Over the years, IPDC has channeled US$ 105 million to close to 1,800 media development project in 140 countries.
The objective of the mission was to discuss IPDC collaboration with Turkish media, the Directorate of Press and Information, the Turkish Development Cooperation Agency (TIKA) and the AA in the field of media and migration, as announced by Ambassador H.A. Botsali during the 60th IPDC Bureau meeting in March this year.
Following the IPDC debate on Media and Migration also on the occasion of the IPDC Bureau, an IPDC project was developed in cooperation with the Turkish delegation based on research and perceived need of journalists and media organizations to increase their skills and knowledge in reporting about the issue of migration and refugees. The project therefore consists of organizing a series of training workshops by skilled national and international lecturers and journalists associated with universities, professional media and journalists’ organizations. It was agreed that the project will also include training on safety of journalists and the situation of women refugees, based on UNESCO/IPDC’s syllabus on “Reporting Migration, with a focus on refugees”.
It is hoped that this pilot project, which should start in the second half of 2016, may develop into a longer-term programme which focuses on putting communication at the center of larger development goals, with special attention the implementation of SDGs.
During the visit, IPDC delegates were also able to address challenges of press freedom, the situation of media and journalists in Turkey, particularly issues related to accreditation, media polarization and the use of the Anti-Terrorism Law. It was discussed to develop a dialogue on these topics.
The International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) is the UN’s intergovernmental programme that mobilizes international support in order to strengthen the capacities of mass media to contribute to sustainable development, democracy and good governance.
The IPDC Chair highlighted IPDC’s history as a driver of knowledge-driven media development, and stated that journalists’ safety was a priority area in which IPDC wished to strengthen cooperation with academia to produce research. “Research will help in mainstreaming safety of journalists, raising public awareness, involving Governments in addressing impunity and finally support sustainable development of peaceful societies all over the world.”
Shala identified three areas in which IPDC would be interested in exploring possibilities of partnerships with academia. Firstly, partnerships for new applications of the UNESCO/IPDC Journalists’ Safety Indicators. Secondly, research on the processes that lead to the successful establishment of national safety mechanisms. And thirdly, the identification and compilation of best practices from different parts of the world in monitoring, reporting on and promoting the safety of journalists.
The conference brought together more than 50 academics from six continents, and was organized by UNESCO in partnership with the University of Sheffield (Centre for Freedom of the Media), the University of Tampere, the University of Helsinki, and the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR).
“This Assessment on Media Development in Curaçao will serve as a good example for the rest of the Caribbean”, the Minister stated. She added: “I am aware that it was not an easy task to fulfil but we now have a final product on the views of society and of relevant stakeholders on our media landscape, that was very much needed"
Katherine Grigsby, Director and Representative of the UNESCO Cluster Office for the Caribbean, emphasized that the recommendations of the report “provide a platform for improving the environment of media development in Curaçao, and will foster a greater commitment for action by the government, parliament, media professionals, policy makers, regulators, and civil society groups interested in media development in the country.” She concluded “I would invite you to make full use of the Assessment of Media Development in Curaçao. Let us all work together to make this vibrant country and the rest of the Caribbean, ambassadors for media development.”
The report is the result of a year-long study based on the UNESCO/IPDC’s internationally-endorsed Media Development Indicators (MDIs) and is the first MDI assessment to be completed in the Caribbean region.
The publication of the report comes six years after the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles on 10 October 2010 (‘10-10-10’). Since 10-10-10, the former ‘Island territory’ of Curaçao enjoys the status of autonomous country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. By becoming a new country, Curaçao was provided with the opportunity to conceive a new constitution and embarked in a series of legal reforms. UNESCO’s report is expected to help guide legal reform and the definition of policies affecting the media sector to enhance the media’s contribution to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in Curaçao.
The report highlights the vibrancy of Curaçao’s media landscape, reflected in the high number of media outlets. There are no fewer than 28 licensed radio stations, eight newspapers and three television stations for the island’s population of just over 150,000 inhabitants. Together, these outlets facilitate a culture of lively debate. Freedom of expression is anchored in Curaçao’s Constitution and the main international human rights treaties are in force.
However, the report finds that the media are unable to adequately play their role as watchdog over the authorities and the other powerful stakeholders in society, and calls for this role to be strengthened.
The report recognizes the limited resources available to journalists in Curaçao. No academic courses in journalism or communication studies are available and only occasional training opportunities are offered. There is no sector-wide code of conduct, no trade union for journalists, no independent Press Council, and no established mechanism for the public to file complaints.
The report also highlights the absence of public service broadcasting and community media (with one possible exception), leaving audiences with only commercial media to rely on to cater to their news and information needs. Another finding is that insufficient guarantees of editorial independence and the absence of a culture of self-regulation have contributed to biases in the way news and information are presented.
Included in the report is a set of evidence-based recommendations to strengthen the development of free, independent and pluralistic media in Curaçao. Among the key recommendations to enhance professional and ethical standards in the media are:
- better training and educational opportunities as well as an effective system of self-regulation;
- the adoption of a code of ethics;
- the creation of professional organizations for journalists; and the use of Collective Labour Agreements.
The study also invites the national authorities to explore possibilities for alternatives to commercial media, such as independent public service broadcasting and the promotion of community media to ensure media diversity in Curaçao.
The report encourages the Government of Curaçao to support the free flow of information by institutionalizing its responsibility to respond to information requests and ensure the proactive disclosure of important governmental information. This includes the release of parliamentary documents, governmental advisory reports and consolidated versions of all current legislation. It further recommends the establishment of an independent body for regulating the broadcasting sector that follows international standards on independence, membership, accountability and transparency.
Additionally, the report proposes that the media industry develop an effective system to ensure transparency in terms of ownership and influence on the media, both financial and political. It also invites the Government, the education system and civil society organisations to promote media and information literacy to help foster a critical use of the media and a demand for an independent press.
The MDI assessment process in Curaçao was nationally-driven and, as little data on media development was available, it involved wide-ranging consultations with key media stakeholders in addition to desk-based research. The consultations included 28 in-depth interviews throughout Curaçao, four focus groups with media workers and members of the public, and three opinion polls respectively targeting 54 media workers, 11 media managers and a representative sample of 708 inhabitants of Curaçao. Careful attention was given to including perspectives from all areas and to ensuring a gender-sensitive approach.
The preliminary findings of the assessment were presented and discussed at the National Conference of Media Development in Curaçao organized in August 2014, attended by some 50 media stakeholders. The feedback received at this conference was taken into account in the finalization of the report.
UNESCO also supported a series of Master Classes based on the findings of the report to assist media development in Curaçao. This programme, implemented in partnership with the Curaçao National Commission for UNESCO, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and RE-Quest Research & Consultancy, followed up on several key recommendations of the report, such as ensuring appropriate training opportunities for journalists, promoting a code of professional ethics and educating citizens to be critical media users.
The assessment of Curaçao’s media landscape using UNESCO’s MDIs was financed by UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) and benefitted from the support of the National Commission of Curaçao to UNESCO, the University of Curaçao (UoC) and the Bureau Telecommunicatie en Post (BTP).
The UNESCO/IPDC Media Development Indicators were developed in 2008 and endorsed by the Intergovernmental Council of UNESCO’s IPDC. Since their endorsement, they have become one of IPDC’s flagship initiatives and have been applied in 16 countries, while assessments are underway in many more.
To access the full Report on Media Development in Curaçao, click here.
Following its 60th Bureau meeting last week, the IPDC is set to reinforce its monitoring and reporting system on journalists’ safety. This is a unique mechanism which enables UNESCO to follow up on cases such as the killing of de Borba with the ultimate objective of ending impunity for his killers and those involved in other murders of journalists.
Since 2008, the Director-General of UNESCO is requested to report to the IPDC Council on the status of safety and impunity. For this, each Member State concerned with the killing of a journalist is requested voluntarily to inform UNESCO on the status of the investigations carried out, with UNESCO keeping track until such time as the case is resolved. To strengthen this process, the IPDC Bureau made three special allocations of funds:
- A sum of US$ 20,000 for the publication and dissemination of a booklet explaining IPDC’s monitoring and reporting mechanism on the safety of journalists to Member States, UN bodies, civil society, NGOs, human rights bodies, and media professionals.
- An additional allocation of US$ 30,000 made for compiling and sharing of best practices in monitoring, reporting and promoting the safety of journalists, as a follow-up to the IPDC-supported International Conference ‘News Organizations standing up for the safety of media professionals’ (Paris, 5 February 2016).
- An amount of US$ 30,000 for the application of UNESCO’s Journalists’ Safety Indicators (JSIs), which enable an assessment of journalists’ safety at national level and of the follow-up given to crimes committed against them.
- For providing capacity-building in Member States to improve their national monitoring systems, $20 000 for a pilot project in a selected country.
The Bureau also requested the IPDC Secretariat to prepare an action plan to further bolster IPDC’s role in tackling impunity, and to present this at the next IPDC Council session in November.
In reaching its decisions, the Bureau meeting was informed by a report from independent media expert, Silvia Chocarro Marcesse, who presented an analytical paper on the IPDC’s role in promoting the safety of journalists.
“Never has the UN advanced so much on the issue of journalistic safety in so little time as in recent years,” said Chocarro Marcesse. “There is momentum. High expectations are placed on the UN … and on UNESCO as the lead agency on the promotion of the safety of journalists”. The analytical paper includes concrete recommendations on how IPDC can contribute to meeting those expectations.
A significant increase has already been observed in the response rate of Member States to the Director-General’s requests for information - from 16 out of 57 countries (28%) in 2014 to 27 out of 57 (47%) countries last year, indicating increased attention being given by Member States to IPDC’s monitoring mechanism.
The issue of populations on the move has been highlighted by the Syrian exodus and its impact on Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and Europe, but is also very evident in the Americas, in East African countries, and in Afghanistan, Iraq and India amongst others.
In this context, untrained reporters are failing to pick up the relevance of differences between the terms “migrants”, “asylum-seekers” and “refugees”. But “words matter”, observed Melissa Fleming, spokesperson for the UN's High Commissioner for Refugees.
Another result of unprepared journalists is that the media have often reduced refugees to an image where they are either a (male) threat or a group of victims, according to Dutch academic, Jacco van Sterkenburg.
There is a similarity between these two approaches, in his view. They both create a “us and them” which reveals differences at the expense of coverage of shared human issues amongst local residents and newcomers.
Across all countries, “media have been manipulated by political leaders, too often accepting their outrageous statements” added Aidan White, Director of the Ethical Journalism Network which has recently published “Moving Stories”, an international review of how media cover migration.
Furthermore, “training is very much needed” noted Dr. Guita Hourani, Director of the Lebanese Emigration Research Center at Notre Dame University (Lebanon), both for journalists and for editors, and not only on journalism ethics but also on how to challenge intolerance in the political rhetoric and on how to contextualize events.
Turkish academic Nevin Yildiz, from Hacettepe University, proposed that women refugees should be given priority attention, so that through them other women can be approached and allowed to express themselves, “because women’s visibility is very limited”.
The experts agreed that newsrooms lack capacity to cope with such an unprecedented situation, and that more means are needed to report on this issue appropriately.
Fleming called for specialist reporters on refugees, as well as complementary UN social media coverage, to promote public understanding of a complex story.
“Support is also needed for refugee media, and for networks of refugee journalists, so that refugees themselves can tell their own story” added Mogens Bjerregard, IPDC Bureau Member for Denmark.
White concluded that “migration is part of the human condition, our nations are built on migration” – hence the need to contextualize and focus on reasons.
The IPDC is the only multilateral forum in the UN system designed to mobilize the international community to discuss and promote media development. The Programme not only provides support for media development projects but also stimulates international debate on important media-related issues. After the debate, the IPDC Bureau agreed on follow-up action to promote best practices of professional reporting on this issue and high ethical standards in this field.
In addition, six new special projects will be launched in areas such as the safety of journalists, combatting the radicalization of youth through the media and improving the media coverage of migration and refugees.
From improving journalists’ capacity for election coverage in Chad to conducting policy reform on community media in Nepal, the new set of IPDC-supported projects addresses a wide range of issues, with the most recurrent being the safety of journalists, capacity building for community media, coverage of elections, media self-regulation, media law/policy reform and access to information.
Most projects had important gender-sensitive components – a clear response to the IPDC’s implementation of a gender checklist in project submission.
The IPDC bureau meeting, chaired by Ms. Albana Shala, also decided to consolidate the programme’s flagship special initiatives, including by enhancing the IPDC’s unique monitoring and reporting system on the safety of journalists and impunity issues.
In this regard, the meeting, held at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, underscored the need for the IPDC to provide opportunities for Member States to pilot national protection and reporting mechanisms on safety, along with conducting new national assessments based on the Journalism Safety Indicators (JSIs).
The Bureau members also stressed follow-up action in the areas of combatting radicalization and improving coverage of refugee-related issues.
Algeria, Bangladesh, Peru, Poland, Denmark, Niger, Ghana and the Netherlands make up the members of the 2015-2016 Bureau, as elected by the 39 Member State IPDC Council in November 2014.
The IPDC was set up in 1980 as the only intergovernmental programme in the UN system mandated to mobilize international support in order to contribute to sustainable development, democracy and good governance by strengthening the capacities of free and independent media. Since its creation, IPDC has channeled more than US$ 106 million to 1,800 media development projects in 140 countries.
Against this backdrop, the Bureau of UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC), which met from 17 to 18 March in Paris, discussed the need for a shift from gender-sensitivity to gender transformation in project support and implementation.
This discussion underscores the IPDC’s commitment to tackling the striking inequalities between men and women’s representation in the media.
By beginning such a process of reflection, the IPDC, an intergovernmental body dedicated to promoting media development, will be seeking to contribute towards realizing the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by the UN General Assembly last September.
IPDC already requires all applications for funding to meet gender-awareness criteria, including explicitly stating the number of female versus male beneficiaries. It also supports the application of UNESCO’s Gender-Sensitive Indicators for Media (GSIM) to measure the degree of gender equality in both the operations and content of selected media outlets around the world.
The shift from mere gender sensitivity to gender transformation promises to move the IPDC towards an unequivocal embrace of UNESCO’s Global Priority Gender Equality. Whereas gender sensitivity only takes into account gender differentials, gender transformation will proactively promote projects that directly challenge the gender inequalities observed.
An increase in the number of gender-transformative projects supported by the IPDC was already observed in recent years, with their number rising from 14 percent of projects in 2014 to 21 percent in 2015.
The IPDC Bureau decision to consider shifting towards gender transformation places gender equality and women’s empowerment at the centre of its media development agenda.
Additionally, the Bureau will hold a debate on “Media and Migration”, which will be informed by the latest research on how the media are portraying the current refugee crisis across traditional and social media platforms. It will host leading experts, including those from media research institutions, UN agencies and academia. The debate has been organized as a response to this pressing issue, to clarify the roles of traditional and social media outlets in such an unprecedented humanitarian crisis and provide the IPDC Bureau with expert insight for future action.
The Bureau meeting will also discuss practical ways to further develop its unique UN monitoring mechanism on the safety of journalists and impunity issues.
Finally, the IPDC Bureau shall discuss future focus and priority areas for the Programme.
Algeria, Bangladesh, Peru, Poland, Denmark, Niger, Ghana and the Netherlands make up the members of the 2015-16 Bureau, as elected by the 39 Member State IPDC Council in November 2014.
The IPDC was set up in 1980 as the only intergovernmental programme in the UN system mandated to mobilize international support in order to contribute to sustainable development, democracy and good governance by strengthening the capacities of free and independent media. Since its creation, IPDC has channeled more than US$ 105 million to over 1,700 media development projects in 140 countries.
Against the backdrop of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimate of over four million registered refugees, the question of the role of the media in ameliorating this crisis has come under increasing scrutiny, with the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) now scheduling what promises to be an enlightening and thought-provoking debate on the subject during the 60th session of the IPDC Bureau, which starts tomorrow at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris.
The debate will offer an opportunity for diverse voices to be heard on the unfolding migrant crisis and the role of the media in sensitively and authoritatively covering its complex impacts across societies.
The IPDC’s contribution to the debate is not new. It reflects an abiding concern that recently found expression in a syllabus on reporting migration, with a focus on refugees. This syllabus is one of several in a publication titled Teaching Journalism for Sustainable Development: New Syllabi.
The debate, scheduled for the 18th of March and to be moderated by the IPDC Chair Albana Shala, will feature a broad range of participants, including those from humanitarian groups, media organisations, and academia.
- Melissa Fleming, Head of Communications and Chief Spokesperson for the High Commissioner, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
- Guita Hourani, Director of the Lebanese Emigration Research Center, Notre Dame University, Lebanon.
- Nevin Yildiz Tahincioglu, Hacettepe University, Ankara, contributor to the recent report “Migration: Global Report on Journalism’s Biggest Test in 2015”.
- Jacco van Sterkenburg, Assistant Professor, Department of Media and Communication, Erasmus Research Centre for Media, Communication and Culture, Netherlands.
- Aidan White, Ethical Journalism Network, editor of the report “Migration: Global Report on Journalism’s Biggest Test in 2015”.