Thursday, October 19, 2017

Training citizen journalists to engage their communities for development

I haven't written a blog in so many years. I have been busy with Ghana Business News and NewsBridge Africa, the not for profit journalism skills training organisation that I started on returning from Columbia University in 2014.

In August I received a call from an official of the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA). The organisation wanted to know how available I will be to undertake a one-month training of citizen journalists across four districts in four regions of Ghana.

I was excited about the prospects. Training others is my passion, it's one of my long-term goals. They asked me to block the whole of October to be able to do so. I obliged and cancelled all other engagements so I can be available to do the training.

The first training scheduled to run for three days was set in the capital of the Twifo Atii Morkwa District of the Central Region, Twifo Praso.

From October 10 to 13, 2017 I travelled with the affable Adiza Moro Maiga, the Programme Officer for Media, Development and Democracy at the MFWA to Twifo Praso to meet an eager group of 10 men and women waiting to learn the ropes - to acquire the skills for citizen journalism.

I prepared to teach about using some social media tools like blogging and tweeting to engage the communities. I taught them basic communication and writing skills, showing them a good number of examples and scenarios they are familiar with, so the ideas can be cemented.

By the end of the third day, most of the participants have learned how to create a blog. They also created Twitter accounts and posted their first tweets!

Most were excited, and felt some sense of accomplishment. Most said they have learned new things for the first time and will be happy to apply them.

The journey is long, the training goes on till the first week of November. After a couple of days break in Accra, we set off on daily trips to the Tema District near Accra for the second segment of the training from October 17 to 19, 2017. Here in Tema, the group of participants were not different from the participants we met in Twifo Praso. Eager, willing and ready to learn.

We took off as usual building a connection with the group, building their confidence and trust in us so we can impact and equip them with the skills they need to be citizen journalists.

They are lapping on the information and trying their hands on the new skills of creating a blog, creating content and tweeting.

The importance of this training programme cannot be overemphasised and hopefully, if the participants, in spite of the challenges, pursue their passions and apply the skills, they are very likely to become influencers in their communities.

Our next stop is Ellembelle in the Western Region and the last district we shall be heading to at the end of October is Wa in the Upper West Region.

The entire one month training is under the hashtag #Mycitizenjournalist. You can follow that on Twitter.

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