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Journalists hone skills for impactful reporting on child rights

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The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) has concluded Capacity-Building training for journalists on ethical reporting on child rights in Baidoa, South West State of Somalia as part of efforts to raise journalists’ consciousness about child rights during the course of working on stories about children.

Held under the theme of Child Rights and Professional Journalism, the two-day training activity, took place from 7th to 8thApril 2021 with the support of Australian government’s Direct Aid Programme.  It was conceived by NUSOJ as a direct response to the dearth of knowledge in reporting child rights in Somalia by building the capacity of journalists to better understand reporting on children’s issues as well as to understand laws that protect children against abuse.

Forming part of the union’s wider program of improving reporting on vulnerable and marginalised people as well as the safety of women journalists, last week’s workshop attracted 36 participants including 14 women journalists.

The participants were taken through the key elements of ethical reporting on children and child rights such as policy issues, increased vulnerability of girls and how to generate public interest and debate across a wide spectrum of stakeholders, including the voices of children.

“We are pleased to be associated with this effort to improve the capacity of Somali journalists to report on the different aspects of their country. Australia places a heavy emphasis on protecting freedom of expression as a core human right – we see this as fundamental to democracy, good governance and strong institutions. People need free, independent and impartial media to provide them with accurate and reliable information. Journalists are the mirror of the society and they need to be skilful and ethical if they are to be trusted by their audiences,” said Linda Gellard, Australia’s Deputy Head of Mission, speaking from Nairobi.

“However, to give an accurate picture of the society, journalists need to be equipped with the knowledge and tools to make an accurate and sensitive portrayal of vulnerable groups in the society such as children. That is why the Australian Government is supporting NUSOJ’s efforts to improve the capacity of Somali journalists to contribute to the protection of child rights through the media” Gellard added.

Speaking at the opening session, NUSOJ Secretary General Omar Faruk Osman, said “the coverage of child rights by media is still stuck in the traditional format of news reporting. It is event based, and reported with a sense of detached objectivity, which often sees journalists unconsciously renege on their professional responsibility”.

“Now that we know the problem and the capacity limitations that journalists are facing, we need to spare no effort but to skill and retool journalists to enable them report ethically on child rights” he stressed.  

During the 2-day training, journalists observed that children abuse stories no longer have the shock effect, and punch to make impact. This makes it important and necessary for the local media to explore new strategies and approaches to the way child rights stories are told and packaged to achieve the desired impact.

After this capacity building, trained journalists are expected to be capable of producing high quality media content about children and child rights across the policy, domestic and regional settings. It also hoped that through this training, journalists will be able to contribute to the public’s understanding of child rights and encourage their involvement in preventing violations.

The training was graced by the Ministers of Information, Justice, Interior and Labour of the government of South -West State of Somalia, highlighting official concern for the protection of child rights and the professionalization of journalism.