TACLOBAN, Philippines – Filipino journalists have expressed their solidarity and demands for the release omaf detained community radio broadcaster Frenchie Mae Cumpio, who has been incarcerated over trumped up charges for the past three years.
Among those who organized the event are officers and members of the International Association of Women in Radio and Television, IAWRT – Philippines, and the AlterMidya – People’s Alternative Media Network. They include IAWRT’s international vice president Jola Diones Mamangun and IAWRT Philippines’ chapter head Lynda Catindig-Garcia.
The group of Filipino journalists were supposed to visit Cumpio in jail but their requests were turned down by concerned government offices, citing pandemic restrictions.
Still, they met with Cumpio’s mother who have expressed her gratitude to the various media organizations who have reached out in solidarity to their family and has brought the injustices committed against her daughter to the world’s attention.
They have also met with Tacloban-based journalists who have expressed their solidarity to Cumpio’s plight. Campus journalists who were also present said Cumpio’s brand of journalism has inspired them to follow the path that the detained journalist has paved for them.
“Women journalists have been subjected to relentless attacks, particularly gendered disinformation and online harassment that attempt to discredit them and their critical reportage of issues affecting marginalized communities. Others have been charged with trumped up charges, including one of our colleagues, Frenchie Mae Cumpio, who continues to be detained for more than three years,” said IAWRT Philippines in a statement last May 3rd, World Press Freedom Day.
AlterMidya, for its part, said the struggle to keep the country’s press genuine free persist as Cumpio remains in detention.
Cumpio has been in detention for more than three years after being arrested over trumped-up charges in February 2020. Her arrest came at the heels of relentless red-tagging against her over her critical reportage on the continuing plight of Typhoon Haiyan survivors and the impacts of militarization in the poor communities of Eastern Visayas.
AlterMidya said, “with every day that Frenchie Mae and independent journalists are deprived of their freedom, burdened by fabricated charges, and silenced by unjust blocking orders– and we Filipinos are deprived of the full realization of our right to expression — it becomes ever more clear that we as a people must continue to fight for press freedom and assert our most fundamental rights.”
IAWRT PhilippineS Chapter have released the online statement and petition to release Frenchie Mae Cumpio during the World Press Freedom Day – Link.
The Deputy Ambassador to the Norwegian embassy in Uganda, Mr. Ole Reidar Bergum has encouraged the Uganda government to support the media to play its rightful role in society. While speaking during the commemoration of the World Press Freedom Day in Uganda’s capital, Kampala, on May 3, 2023, Mr. Bergum said the media plays a central role in protecting democracy globally, yet media freedom around the world continues to decline, with statistics showing that globally, in 2022 a total of 54 journalists were killed and 263 imprisoned.
Deputy ambassador of the Norwegian embassy in Uganda, Mr. OleReidar Bergum
“The latest world press freedom report shows that a number of countries categorized as having a very serious situation of press freedoms has grown from 18 in 2016 to 28 in 2022. Uganda is no exception. According to the 2022 world press freedom index [report] from Reporters without borders, Uganda is ranked at 132 out of 180 countries, down 7 positions from 2021…. I would like to urge the government of Uganda through the Ministry if ICT to ensure that the media in Uganda is supported to play its role to mobilize its citizens towards progressive actions that increase their participation in decision making.” Mr. Bergum said.
The Deputy Ambassador also encouraged journalists and media practitioners to always reflect gender balance in their reporting.
“I would like to highlight the importance of gender balance reporting, while ideally, the media should strive for accuracy and impartiality, in reality, there are often imbalances including in terms of women and their perspectives. I would like to encourage the media to have an open platform for broader public deliberations especially for issues that disproportionally affect both men and women.” Mr. Bergum noted.
While speaking at the same event, the Minister of Internet Communication Technology and National Guidance, Dr. Chris Baryomunsi said, the Uganda government allows some level of media freedom. He however, acknowledged that sometimes freedom of the press has been violated.
Minister of ICT and National guidance Mr. Chris Baryomunsi
“Press freedom in Uganda is very abundant. Yes, it is very abundant in my assessment. I don’t think you as media practitioners, you live in fear because of your profession. There could be a few incidences, yes, like sometimes we have seen media clashing with security when they are covering riots and demonstrations, which situations we have condemned. I have spoken in public that we need maybe to train our security officers as well as the media to see how they would work together. There are of course a few incidences but by and large, you can’t really say that there is extremely restricted press freedom in Uganda.” Baryomunsi said.
The minister reminded media practitioners that media freedom comes with responsibility and patriotism. He pledged government’s commitment to further improve the state of media freedom in Uganda.
“But as we speak of press freedom, we call for responsible media and patriotic media. Sometimes, you media practitioners, you report as if you are not Ugandans.” Baryomunsi said.
The commemoration of the World Press Freedom Day was supported by the Journalism & Media International Centre of Oslo Metropolitan University in collaboration with Makerere University in Uganda.
Digital and physical security was put on the agenda when 45 final year journalism students and early career journalists participated in safety training in Uganda in early April.
Department of Journalism and Communication, Makerere University, Uganda, in cooperation with JMIC, conducted a four-day workshop on safety and security of journalists 3 rd- to 6 th April, 2023.
While speaking at the beginning of the training, Dr. Nakiwala Aisha Sembatya, the Head of Department of Journalism and Communication highlighted the importance of the workshop noting that such training is crucial for young journalists, because it enables them to know what to do when they are faced with safety and security threats. She commended JMIC for its continued support towards the Department that has enabled them to prepare their students well.
Journalists in Uganda face serious threats that range from intimidation, physical and psychosocial harassment, arrest and detention on a nearly daily basis. Journalists are regularly targeted by state actors such as security services, who include the army and the police and non-state actors such as mobs, politicians and powerful business people whose enterprises may be threatened by the journalists’ critical reporting.
The workshop was facilitated by local and international facilitators. Local facilitators included, Dr. Sara Namusoga, a Lecturer at the Department of Journalism and Communication, Culton Scovia Nakamya, a local Television journalist and Dr. Aisha Nakiwala. The local trainers were supported by Abeer Saady, a recognised safety trainer associated with Journalism & Media International Center.
Dr. Sara Namusoga told participants that journalists should be aware of their safety digitally and physically, because unsafe journalists cannot tell good stories.
Namusoga advised participants to always backup their data, avoid opening emails from untrusted sources, distancing themselves from usage of public Wi-Fi, noting that doing so exposes their accounts to hackers.
Abeer Saady took participants through a number of issues related to safety and security including, risk management and safety planning while working in hostile environments, situational awareness and ethical dilemmas related to safety and security.
Dorcus Nzayisenga, one of the participants applauded the trainers for making the sessions engaging. “The sessions were very educative and above all interactive which gives us students a chance to express our views. The facilitators were audible and made use of their personal experience, for proper understanding.”
Another participant, Moreen Atwiine said that she has learnt a lot from the training. “As a journalist l have become more aware about the threats l can face while doing my work and also the mechanisms to manage these threats.” She pledged to share the knowledge she has acquired with fellow journalists. “ I will educate fellow journalist who didn’t get the chance to attend the workshop about their safety. I will also start practicing the tips about my safety and security as a journalist that I have learnt.”
Recent tragic violence in Pakistan, including the bomb blast in a Peshawar mosque earlier this year, underscore the importance of safety training for Pakistani journalists and journalism students. Violent conflict few kilometers from the training site in the city of Lahore, also made this a strategic and practical exercise for organizers as well as the participants.
The yearly journalists’ safety workshop under the title Ensuring physical and mental safety of journalists amid violent events took place at Forman Christian College University, Lahore, Pakistan from March 14 th to 16 th , 2023. The yearly event is a collaboration between JMIC OsloMet and FCCU. Besides the training the workshop also had a book launch on day two. The book launch of Abeer Saady’s book on safety of women journalists took place on March 15 th , 2023, the second day of the workshop. It was the Urdu translation of the IAWRT Safety Handbook for Women Journalists, What If…?, Ms. Sabahat Afsheen is the translator of the handbook.
A total of 36 participants completed the certification, 19 female and 17 male. Four guests from outside Lahore participated in workshop from Islamabad and Peshawar. Three female participants couldn’t join due to personal reasons. The workshop focused on personal safety of journalists in violent situations.
The workshop was planned within the context of recent tragic violence in Pakistan, especially the bomb blast in a Peshawar mosque in the middle of a highly secure zone in the city. But at the time of workshop the host city, Lahore was in the grip of violent conflict, happening a few kilometers from the workshop venue. This made the whole planning for the days a strategic exercise for organizers as well as the participants. The workshop was successful in many ways. The first and foremost of these is the commitment of the participants who strategically planned their participation on each of the three days. They reached the venue from different parts of the city and fully participated by sharing their daily experiences of planning and execution of their risk assessments, arrival and departure plans and sharing their perspectives about a developing situation.
They not simply shared the perspectives but also got into role playing, interplaying different roles in the process of reporting on violent events. Both physical and psychological safety were discussed and presented. The book launch on the second day of the workshop very well fit into the whole program. The importance of safety of female journalists amidst the digital media trolling and harassment was a very welcome element of the training.
One big challenge in such events when these happen amid violent outbursts is to get the news regarding the event published in the media. It is not a must, but it is part of the exercise to ensure that a social impact news isn’t lost in politically hostile news cycles. Networking for placement of the proceedings in radio and print (hybrid) media was successfully done. The event got good news coverage. In this manner the information reached a larger audience. Impact multipliers are always important.
The immediate context of this workshop is also a big source of realization of the troubles working journalists go through in their day to day performance. Educators and students need to know the real life, everyday challenges of the profession. During the role plays and presentations each group had at least one member who had firsthand experience of the troubled area on the first evening of the workshop. This is an ideal, laboratory like situation where on the first day one gets a detailed introduction to potentially violent ecosystem. On the same day one visits a controlled scene of such a place and incorporates the experience during the second and the third day.
The whole workshop and the book launch helped in a deeper understanding of potentially violent situations and the skills to deal with these. It also helped the trainees to a deeper appreciation of journalistic work. True, the perils of the field can be only understood in the field, but the workshop helped in reaching nearest to understand working in violent ecosystems, a need of the hour in politically volatile and polarized societies and systems of governance.
The “Ecology Journalism Project” has been completed with meetings with ecology groups and local press in Mersin, Fındıklı/Rize and Çanakkale in Turkey run by the IPS Communication Foundation/bianet with the support of JMIC.
As part of the project, a climate journalism workshop and an ecology meeting were held and an ecology article series was published.
The “Ecology Journalism Project” meeting was held in three cities in the regions of Mediterranean, Black Sea and Marmara, where there is intense ecological destruction, as well as struggle.
In the three meetings held for the purpose of strengthening the relationship between ecology organizations and national and local press and the relationship between ecology organizations, the difficulties faced by the organizations and their long-term struggles and how the press should report on ecology were discussed.
Mediterranean Region: Mersin
On October 28, 2022, environmental and civil society organizations conveyed their experiences and struggles at the first “Ecology Journalism Project” meeting. Academics from the city’s university and journalists were also at the meeting. Özer Akdemir, who has been reporting on ecological issues for many years, made a presentation about “What ecology reporting is and how it is done?”
Ecology groups in the Mediterranean Region that have been struggling against the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant complained that “their voices are not being heard enough in the national media.” Lawyer Semra Kabasalak from the Eastern Mediterranean Environmental Association said, “We often feel alone in the struggle for the environment, but we want everyone to know that we will continue our struggle until we die.”
Black Sea Region: Rize/Fındıklı
On November 12, ecology and environmental groups and local journalists in the Black Sea Region attended the “Ecology Journalism Project” meeting. At the meeting, journalist Pelin Cengiz made a presentation about the details of ecology journalism and conveyed the difficulties they faced in reaching the national press.
Nur Neşe Karahan from the Green Artvin Association said, “We have been struggling for 30 years in Artvin to protect our living spaces and make the public hear about our struggle. Yes, the situation is very difficult and we were silenced in this period when we need to speak up the most, but we have to make a choice: We will either stop this destruction or we will be annihilated.”
Marmara Region: Çanakkale
The last meeting of the “Ecology Journalism Project” was held in Çanakkale in Marmara Region. Ecology groups and activists, as well as local journalists, attended the meeting on November 30, 2022. Journalist Özgür Gürbüz gave information about what to consider when reporting on the environment and ecology. Ecology groups that attended the meeting conveyed the problems they faced in communicating with the national press.
Reyhan Erdem from the Kaz Mountain Protection Association said, “We started the struggle in 1997, with the reports that the Çan Thermal Power Plant would be established and set up an environmental platform. In 2007, the second platform was established. However, despite all of our environmental problems, we could not stay together as environmental organizations and environmental committees of mass organizations. I remember the early days when everybody would attend. Now we cannot come together with the same crowd and power.”
Joudy Alasmar, a Lebanese journalist, won the first award during a closing ceremony in Tunis on 30 November 2022 for her investigation on the landfill in Tripoli.
Her work is part of a five-year collaboration between ARTICLE 19 MENA (Middle East and North Africa), the Institute of Press and Information Sciences (IPSI) at La Manouba University and JMIC on “Support the right to information and investigative journalism in the MENA region.” The edition of 2022 focused on environmental issues.
The award ceremony was organized in hybrid format with the presence of trainee journalists, trainers and coaches, and other guests. The trainee journalists presented their experiences in this program and highlighted the challenges they faced and the lessons they learned.
As part of the ceremony, a discussion was held about investigative journalism and environmental issues in the MENA region.
This discussion was conducted between journalists, including investigative journalists and journalists specialized on environmental issues, experts on access to information, and environmental activists who took part in this discussion to debate challenges, the accessibility of environmental information within the laws on access to information in the MENA region, and the importance of environmental journalism.
The Department of Communication & Digital Media at An-Najah National University organized a closing ceremony for the workshops carried out at the university campus on Wednesday 30th November 2022.
At the ceremony, certificates were given to the 69 students participating in the workshops, and prizes were also given to the students who made remarkable journalism works.
The workshops dealt with three topics: the first was entitled “The Flow of Global News Stream on Social Media concerning Environmental and Climate Issues“. The second workshop was regarding “The Investigative Reporting on Corruption“, while the third workshop dealt with the issue of “Access to Information“.
Students from An-Najah National, Arab American, Hebron, and Palestine Technical (Kadoorie) universities have participated in the third workshop, where the competing students prepared media materials in the field of access to information including press reports, videos, and posters.
Regarding the “investigative reporting on corruption” competition, the students produced a set of journalistic investigations that dealt with corruption issues, used research tools to collect data, analyzed and discussed them, and put forward possible solutions to those issues.
A set of works produced by students, short films and posters in particular, were presented.
The ceremony was attended by Dr. Farid Abudheir, Coordinator of Joint Projects with JMIC at Oslo Metropolitan University, Dr. Hussam Abu Diya, Dr. Abdeljawad Abdeljawad, Mr. Ayman Al-Masri, Dr. Islam Halayka, Dr. Said Shahin, Head of the Department of Media at Hebron University, and Ms. Ramz Bsharat from the Arab American University.
Dr. Farid Abudheir has praised the participation of the Palestinian universities in the “Access to Information” workshop. He also stressed the importance of the three topics addressed by the workshops, especially in raising awareness of the issues of access to information, corruption issues, and environmental and climate issues. Besides, he considered that these workshops were aimed at spreading awareness of these issues and enhancing the student’s abilities to address them using media tools.
Not to mention, Dr. Abudheir thanked An-Najah National University including its administration and departments that helped in making these workshops a success. He also thanked JMIC at OsloMet, which supported the projects implemented by the Department of Communication and Digital Media at An-Najah National University. The meeting was concluded by taking group photos of the participants.
The 39th Biennial Conference of the International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT) took place from 18 to 20November 2022, hosted by the chapter in Tanzania. Delegates from all chapters worldwide met in Zanzibar under the headline Gendered Media Perspectives: Conflict, Covid and Climate Change.
The main plenary on the first day was Afghanistan after Taliban: Status of Women Journalists. The testimonies came from members of IAWRT Afghanistan in exile and online, Najiba Ayubi, Kreshma Fakhri, Somaia Walizadeh – and Abdul Basir Quraishi.
Reena Mohan from India and Elisabeth Eide from JMIC (online) also shared their experiences about the status of the Afghan journalists after Taliban came to power in Afghanistan. Sharmini Boyle of Internews Pakistan was also present online, and the book “Lives, Jobs, Homeland:Afghan Women Journalists Lose All” was launched.
Digital Safe House (DSH)for journalists at riskwas the focus of another session. Speakers were Colette Simonne Heefner of International Media Support (IMS), Oona Solberg of JMIC and Sue Onslow of Institute of Commonwealth Studies. Therese Patricia San Diego Torres told about the experiences of the pilot project DSH in the Philippines and Birgitte Jallov presented DSH Moldova. Also Greta Gober spoke; as the one who came up with the idea of a DSH originally.
Countdown to Climate Change was the title of another plenary discussion moderated by Michelle Ferrier, the new international president. JMICs Elisabeth Eide also participated online in this panel together with Lia Torres fromCenter for Environmental Concerns in the Philippines, Becky Bisong from Cameroon and Monica Magoke Mhoja and Maria Matui from Tanzania.
The outgoing IAWRT president and treasurer, Violet Gonda and Jola Diones-Mamangun presented their reports in the final session. Chapter reports from Afghanistan, Cameroon, India, Iraq-Kurdistan, Kenya, Nepal, Norway, Moldova, Philippines, Tanzania, Uganda, USA and the new IAWRT chapter in Sierra Leone followed. Different committees also shared their reports. The turned-over ceremony of the new IAWRT International Board was also one of the highlights of the conference.
The Department of Communication & Digital Media at An-Najah National University in Nablus in Palestine organized “Access to Information“ Conference at the University on Monday 7 November 2022 in cooperation with JMIC.
This is the Fourth time The Department Organizes a Conference on Access to Information at their University in commemoration of the International Day for Universal Access to Information declared by UNESCO in 2016.
The conference was attended by Mr. Nasser Abu Bakr, president of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, Mr. Nasser Jawabreh, Director of Ministry of Information Office in Nablus and Mr. Ruben André Johansen, First Secretary of Political Affairs at the Representative Office of Norway to the Palestinian Authority.
Professors and students from Birzeit University, Palestine Technical University (Khadoori), Hebron University, Arab American University, as well as a number of Palestinian Journalists participated.
The participants called for the adoption of Access to Information law in Palestine, as it is a legal guarantee to protect the citizens’ right to knowledge, and the right of a journalist to obtain the information needed to develop democratic participation and achieve sustainable development in society.
The conferees also called for the development of effective mechanisms to spread the culture of access to, and use of, information, and the removal of all obstacles that prevent citizens from knowing what is happening and what decisions are being made regarding public affairs.
Besides, conferees warned that the blocking of information opens the way for the spread of rumours and hate speech. It also destroys one of the important bases in building a democratic society that protects human rights and establishes the principles of transparency and integrity in society.
Ms. Muna Hawash, Head of Communication & Digital Media & Radio and Television Departments, opened the conference by stressing the importance of Access to Information, considering that information is the basic element for a journalist. She considered that this principle is the cornerstone of journalism, and that the citizens’ right to know is a human, moral and legal right.
Dr. Farid Abu Dheir, coordinator of joint projects with JMIC/OsloMet, highlighted the cooperation, which extends to 23 years. He praised the activities and events that were carried out during those years and the benefit that was reflected on the participating students.
Dr. Abu Dheir explained that the conference aims to integrate the concept of Access to Information in media materials and school curricula, and to seek the adoption of an exclusive law that protects the citizens’ right to knowledge.
Nasser Abu Bakr, president of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, emphasized that the syndicate exerts all efforts to ease the work of journalists and guarantee their right of Access to Information. He pointed to the challenges imposed by the Israeli Occupation on journalists, especially preventing them from covering events and violating journalists’ rights to cover events, in order to block Palestinians Access to Information.
Nasser Jawabreh, Director of Ministry of Information office in Nablus, explained that the Israeli Occupation is the biggest challenge for Palestinian journalists, making Access to Information an arduous issue.
For his part, Mr. Johansen at Norwegian Representative Office, expressed his gratitude for participating in the conference at An-Najah University in Nablus which witnessed harmful Israeli restrictions on the movement of the population, as today’s talk is about human rights, including freedom of movement.
Mr. Johansen stressed that the Norwegian government is proud to support the cooperation between An-Najah National University and Oslo Metropolitan University. He also mentioned that Access to Information is the key to the improvement of human rights globally.
He pointed out that although all countries of the world pledge the citizens’ right to access information, many countries impose laws restricting this right. In addition, he stressed the importance of Access to Information in avoiding false information to which journalists are vulnerable. He also mentioned the protests taking place in Iran to activate this right.
Mr. Ruben concluded his speech with stressing on the importance of human rights in light of the Israeli occupation attacks, and praised 7amleh Foundation, which tirelessly works to preserve human rights. “I am sure that this conference will succeed,” he said.
In the second session of the conference, Dr. Saeed Shaheen, Head of Media Department at Hebron University, Dr. Islam Halayqa, Lecturer at the Department of Radio and TV at An-Najah National University, Mr. Emad Al-Asfar, Director of Media Development Center at Birzeit University, Ms. Kholoud Assaf, News Editor-in-chief of the Palestinian Wafa News Agency and Mr. Mohammed Daraghmeh, Correspondent of Elsharq TV, made presentation on experiences regarding Access to Information in Palestine.
The speakers stressed the importance of Access to Information as the main pillar of media work, and an urgent need for citizens in their private and public life. The participants called for not succumbing to the information-blocking policies imposed by governments and public and private institutions, and the need to seek information. Mr. Emad Al-Asfar pointed out that the existence of investigative journalism in developed countries proves that withholding information is a practice that is carried out in all countries of the world, including the Western world.
The third session was dedicated to young media students at An-Najah, Birzeit, Palestine Technical University (Khadoori) and Hebron universities. The session was moderated by Laith Hasson and Dana Al-Saifi from the Department of Communication & Digital Media at An-Najah National University. As the above mentioned universities were represented by Roaa Khuffash, Loard Hadeed, Dareen Hamd, and Raed Al-Sharif respectively.
The participants stressed the importance of Access to Information for young journalists and the need to remove all obstacles to the journalist’s work that prevent them from doing their job professionally and effectively.
The Chief Executive of Journalism & Media International Centre, Oona Solberg last week held a productive engagement with representatives of the Department of Journalism and Communication, Makerere University in Uganda.
The two representatives included, Dr. Aisha Nakiwala Sembatya, the Head of the Department of Journalism and Communication and Dr. Gerald Walulya, the coordinator of JMIC activities in Uganda and a Lecturer at the same institution.
The two were in Oslo to participate in the 8th International Conference on Safety and Security of Journalists that is celebrated every at Oslomet in commemoration of the International Day to end impunity for crimes committed against journalists.
The discussions focused on the evaluation of the five activities JMIC and the Department of Journalism and Communication have implemented in Uganda this year and plans for the next year.
These activities included two trainings; one focusing on the safety and security of journalists and the other focusing on Access to Information. The other activities included organising a Rig on Press freedom and the celebration of the World Press Freedom Day on May 5 and the International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI) on September 28.
Dr. Nakiwala commended the support that the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has given to her Department through JMIC. She said that her university remains committed to working with JMIC and Oslomet to further improve the skills and knowledge of journalists and journalism students in Uganda.
JIMC Chief Executive, Oona Solberg commended the team from Makerere University for the effective utilisation of the support they receive from JMIC.
Since 2017, JMIC has been working with the Department of Journalism and Communication, Makerere University in Uganda, to train journalists and journalism students in key emerging journalism challenges such as safety and security of Journalists and Access to Information.
The cooperation between the two institutions has also focused on raising awareness on matters of press freedom and human rights through commemoration of important days such as the World Press Freedom Day and the International Day for Universal Access to Information.