From 3 to 7 February 2014, twenty-five correspondents from five local radios (Pambazuko, Micheweni, Kyela, Uzikwaza, and Mtegani) convened at Pambazuko FM in Ifakara, Tanzania, for a workshop on the use of mobiles phones and applications for gathering and reporting news.
During one week, facilitators Faith Shayo, an ICT expert working at the University of Dar es Salaam Computing Centre (UCC), and Rose Mwalimu, a Media Specialist/Trainer of UNESCO, worked closely with participants to hone their skills and knowledge to more effectively wield mobile technology for extending and improving their local media coverage. Building on a series of workshops organized by UNESCO with the support of SIDA through the project “Empowering Local Radios with ICTs,” the correspondents also reflected on how this training can be scaled for improvements in other areas, such as Monitoring and Evaluations (through strengthening mechanisms for audience feedback).
Linkages were also made to the potential benefits of improving their mobile communication skills for both their personal and professional growth, as well as the growth of their stations. For example, beyond improvements in programme quality and delivery, many of the stations participating have been assisted by UNESCO to establish MoUs for support from Airtel, a telecommunications company, to host their station transmitters, and to establish income support programmes for correspondents as representatives for mobile goods and services.
During the training, each participating radio set-up and utilized email, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube accounts, mobile phones, online search engines, and Smart Phone applications such as “Record My Call”, for gathering and reporting coverage of local stories. Group work was strongly emphasized, and at least two hours per day were used throughout the duration of the workshop for practical lessons. Equipped with background knowledge on the status of mobile phone usage in Tanzania, participants also explored how various media corporations have applied mobile phones in news reporting.
As facilitator Rose Mwalimu explains, “Many of those we work with are disadvantaged in their access to and use of ICTs, because of where they come from, their educational background, or even because of their gender. Through projects like this, community radios become catalysts to close those gaps.”