The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) successfully convened two training workshops on peace journalism in Mogadishu and Galkayo in cooperation with Swedish government agency for peace, security and development (FBA – Folke Bernadotte Academy) and Olof Palme International Center.
Thirty one (31) journalists from Mogadishu, Baidoa, Bardhere, Kismayo, Beledwyene and Jowhar and Afgoye met in Mogadishu, while 30 journalists from Puntland and Galmudug were brought together in Galkayo to forge stronger and more meaningful professional solidarity in building peace. Galkayo was selected as a venue not only because the city has long suffered from ruinous and bloody conflicts but because of recent and encouraging actions by its communities towards reducing hostilities and promoting peace and reconciliation. Both trainings were concurrently conducted on 29-31 December 2020.
Given Somalia’s long history with conflict and more importantly, the current political opportunities to set the country on a more peaceful and democratic path, the capacity building activities deepened journalists’ understanding of peace journalism both in theory and practice, and successfully built their capacity to report on conflicts in an objective manner. Among other things, the trainings emphasised the importance of avoiding inflammatory language when covering conflicts and encouraged journalists reporting on the upcoming Somali elections to employ peace journalism practices.
A key highlight of the training was a presentation and discussion on peace journalism and human rights. This reiterated the importance of human rights reporting and the presentation of a comprehensive narrative of the conflict. Participants also engaged in discussions around the importance of peaceful electoral reporting practices and how to practically adopt peace journalism theories.
“Through their news coverage, journalists have a great role to play in helping the public understand conflicts in their communities and promoting peace as a viable and sustainable component in development,” says NUSOJ’s Secretary General, Omar Faruk Osman. “For too long, war journalism was the prism through which stories were told and this exacerbated differences among groups, heightened sensationalism and sowed seeds of conflict rather than promoted peace. Peace journalism on the other hand, promotes reporting in a way that helps our society to consider and value non-violent approaches to resolving conflict.”
Participants reported leaving the training feeling empowered by the knowledge and training provided in the workshop as well as the practical tips on how to better cover stories that illuminate the complexities around conflicts.
“Reporting in a way that recognises the multi-layered character of conflict while championing peace and human rights requires a particular set of skills,” says Osman. “These trainings were therefore extremely important and timely not only because Somalia is entering an election year but because it provided the necessary building blocks for our journalists to practice peace journalism in all aspects of their work going forward.”