The Conflict Sensitive Journalism project was initiated by Uganda Radio Network to help train journalists and empower media organisations to play a more active role in peace building. The project is envisaged as a media driven peace building intervention targeting regional and community levels in Uganda.
The Conflict Sensitive Journalism (CSJ) project sets out to help traditional mass media particularly radio use more Conflict Sensitive Journalism approaches when reporting on conflicts.
The training is also intended to help traditional media in Uganda focus reportage time more on deep seated issues like war crimes, graft and corruption by those in power and gross human rights abuses. These are issues that are difficult to report about and require long term commitment from a media house as well as more than usually skilled journalists.
To ensure that the training is effective, URN uses new media and alternative media dependent on the strength and goals of the media house and journalists we are working with.
URN seeks to capitalize on existing and effective regional, religious, and community cultural platforms of information dissemination and conflict resolution. The value addition these provide to traditional mass media approaches engaging with conflict, constitute an alternative media whose significance had not been strategically utilized in past media interventions.
This effort aimed to benefit from functional networking and linkages with stakeholders in peace building initiatives which include local government, CSOs, CBOs, cultural institutions and religious organisations.
Our initial Conflict Sensitive Journalism project closely collaborated with the USAID/SAFE team in order to exploit their rich experiences. The project span one year of intervention from January to December 2014.
Districts of operations
The project was implemented through stations located in regional and towns of Tororo and Soroti (Eastern region) Moroto (North Eastern region), Masindi (Western Region), Nebbi and Arua West Nile region).
Six model stations including; Nenah FM in Karamoja, Teso Broadcasting Service in Soroti, Veros Radio in Tororo, Radio Kitara in Masindi, Rainbow Radio in Nebbi and Radio Pacis in Arua.
Project Goals and Objectives
The overall objective of the project was to promote an empowering culture that sustains peace-building at the regional and community levels in Uganda through an integrated media strategy applying conflict sensitive approaches.
- Establish level of existing media peace-building initiatives at the regional and community levels in target areas by conducting a baseline survey.
- To equip Journalists and media practitioners with knowledge and skills to apply conflict sensitive approaches and network with CSOs on sustainable peace initiatives in the target areas.
- To support production of CSJ programmes, and stimulate media houses’ active participation in and publicising of home-grown community initiatives towards peace building.
- To strengthen and support journalists skills in reporting conflict and engage with citizen journalism through both traditional mass media and the New media.
- Conduct a baseline survey on peace building interventions in the six targeted districts of the project.
- Conduct training of Journalists and media practitioners at model radio stations in CSJ approach to news and programmes production including networking with key stakeholders, especially CSOs and CBOs.
- Facilitate Production and broadcast of CSJ radio programmes on conflict and its management highlighting home grown community solutions at six model radio stations.
- Conduct mentoring for journalists and producers of community dialogues programmes to enhance citizen journalism in conflict reporting and management at six model radio stations.
- Conduct monitoring and evaluation of the CSJ intervention in the six model Radio stations.
- Introduced the selling value of CSJ at participating stations.
- Over 40 journalists trained and mentored in CSJ who now engage with the concept at six stations in target areas.
- Gained managerial buy-in from participating stations to mainstream CSJ at their stations
- Improved script writing and mapping of conflict in programming at Radio stations
- Enabled coverage of more conflicts from target areas, and stimulated action towards resolving and addressing the underlying issues therein.
- Gained the collaboration of the related NGOs, the Church and cultural institutions and artistes to integrate the conflict sensitive approach to their work.
- The model radio programmes on conflict provide an indispensable grassroots forum not only for community engagement with topical issues of governance but also for a vital interface with community leaders.
- Many of the challenges experienced by the community point to their weak awareness of and sensitization to their roles and responsibilities in community governance, civic education is a key intervention in promoting peace and good governance.
- The CSJ model of mentoring boosts work morale and reduces staff turnover at the media stations by promoting teamship and teamwork.
- Mentorship requires objectivity of outlook on the part of journalists as well as a respect for diversity of opinions from stakeholders.Editors are still not fully persuaded about the selling value of Conflict Sensitive Journalism as part of the mainstream programming format. They consider it expensive, research laden and time consuming for the few staff at the stations. It is imperative that dialogue between editors and the communities [stakeholders in conflict] is regular to emphasize the centrality of Conflict Sensitive Initiatives and conflict resolution.
- Stakeholder involvement though appreciated is yet to be fully anchored in station operations.
The Way Ahead
The various experiences shared were persuasive enough to claim the important role that CSJ approaches can play not only in re-aligning the attitudes and practices across Uganda’s mediascape, but also in proposing alternative models of conflict resolution and peace building within the context of national development.
The following recommendations were proposed in order to promote the business value of CSJ and raise the profile of this model of programming with Radio owners and managers:
- Training and sensitisation meetings in CSJ should be arranged for Editors and media managers in order to promote sustainability of CSJ initiatives at media houses
- CSJ should be recast as a business model to convince media managers, marketers and advertisers of the profitability of investing in this type of professional reporting and programming.
- Related to the above, social marketing should be integrated into future CSJ trainings in order to bring about positive attitudinal transformation.
- Media houses should explore the value addition stakeholder involvement benefits programming and audience appeal it presents.