UNESCO and UNDP trained sixty-six (66) journalists drawn from various community, commercial and state owned radio stations, and print media houses from around the country. The five-day workshop on conflict sensitive and gender responsive reporting was aimed at strengthening the capacity of media professionals to report on conflict issues in a well-researched, factual and non-biased way and contribute to dialogue, mutual understanding and eventually reconciliation and peace.
The media has become an effective platform to contribute to mitigation of conflicts in communities especially when the media workers/journalists are informed and knowledgeable about conflict sensitive reporting and peace journalism issues.
As South Sudan moves towards the realization of peace in the country, journalists need to acquire adequate knowledge of conflict theory, as well as additional reporting skills and the analytical “know how” to be able to report accurately, impartially, safely and be gender sensitive within conflict situations.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Kamil Kamaluddeen, Resident Representative, UNDP South Sudan, stressed the importance of attainment peace in South Sudan. He added, the presence of a sustainable peace is key to the achievement of development and he therefore urged journalists to use their platforms to promote peace, dialogue and reconciliation in the country.
While Ms. Doreen Loboka, UNESCO Communication Specialist, urged journalists to cover conflict issues with sophistication, to move away from just talking about the consequences of war but also analytically cover the causes and solutions to conflict. “A good journalist must be in position to research, analyse and present comprehensive stories”, she stated.
Mr. Koma Dumo, a journalist from Pageri, encouraged fellow participants to positively shape the attitudes of the people who listen to the radio, interpret complex issues for the communities they serve and use the media for mediation and dialogue as an alternative to the attainment of peace in South Sudan. While Ms. Grace Githaiga, Trainer and Media Consultants stressed that, “as Journalists our most powerful tools are the words we use, and the pictures and sounds. We can use our tools to build understanding instead of fear and Myth”.
In his remarks, Mr. Victor Bullen Baba, Director General for Information at the Ministry of Information, Communication, Telecommunication and Postal Services, appreciated UNESCO and UNDP for targeting journalists from all parts of South Sudan. He stated that capacity building for journalists on issues around conflict and gender sensitivity is an imperative need if an everlasting impact in the South Sudan media eco-system is to be realized as journalists have a key role to play towards the building of peace in their respective communities and the country at large.
The 5-day capacity building workshop is implemented under the UNDP/UNESCO project entitled “Peace and Community Cohesion (PaCC)” and PBF project phase II “Strengthening Dialogue for Peace and Reconciliation in South Sudan” that aim to contribute to the reduction and mitigation of community level conflict and insecurity by investing in initiatives that address key drivers of conflict and insecurity.