In May, Norwegian and Palestinian students collaborated at OsloMet, investigating the conditions of press freedom in seven countries
The Rig on press freedom is a journalistic end-of-year-project that has been an annual happening for the first year journalism students at OsloMet for more than a decade.
Professor Elsebeth Frey and her colleague Mathias Falch have arranged the same project at An-Najah National University in Nablus, Palestine in 2017 and 2019, and in May this year, Palestinians that participated in these workshops joined the Norwegian students during the Rig.
The Norwegians and Palestinians worked together in small groups with interpreters, writing news stories about the press freedom in Tanzania, Lebanon, Tunisia, South Africa, Austria, Spain, and the Czech Republic.
This is the first time OsloMet receives student visits from abroad during the Rig.
Marie Lauvdal collaborated with Reem Maree on an article about freelancers in Lebanon.
– It helped a lot when we were interviewing sources from Lebanon since Reem spoke Arabic. She also helped me translate various websites and videos, Lauvdal said.
Aziza Jaljouy worked with the Tanzania group.
– It makes you think about how different press freedom is in different countries, she said.
Read more about the Palestinians experience of the Rig:
While speaking at the commemoration of the World Press Freedom Day on May 5, 2022 in Kampala, Uganda, Baryomunsi said that the government has allowed “reasonable press freedom in Uganda.”
“The position of government is that the media should be free. I have spoken in audiences of security and police officers and I have insisted that media practitioners should be given freedom and space to practice their profession,” Baryomunsi said before further pledging that: “As long as I am the minister in charge of information I will insist that the police and security have no right whatsoever to harass journalists as they do their work because media practice and journalism is a service like any other.”
The Minister of Information Communication Technology, Dr. Chris Baryomunsi (center) handing over an award to Dr. Patricia Litho (second from left), the Board Chairperson of Uganda Media Women’s Association (Photo: Christopher Zziwa).
His comments came in the wake of increased attacks on journalists by the police and army that have left several journalists injured and their equipment destroyed. A press freedom index released recently by a local NGO, Human Rights Network for Journalists – Uganda shows that the Police and the army are the leading perpetuators of press freedom violations in Uganda.
The recent attacks on journalists have seen Uganda’s 2022 ranking in the World Press Freedom index drop to 132 from 125 in the previous year.
Baryomunsi acknowledged that media practitioners and journalists need to be supported and protected because they perform an important role in society.
“We need to work together and we need to support journalists, to protect them but also most importantly to respect and appreciate that they are also doing their work,” he said.
The keynote speaker, Robert Kabushenga advised journalists to change their mindset as well as retooling and reskilling themselves to fit in the new digital world.
Mr. Robert Kabushenga, the former Managing Director of the State owned Vision group who was the keynote speaker (Photo: Christopher Zziwa).
The commemoration of the World Press Freedom Day was supported by the Journalism & Media International Centre of Oslo Metropolitan University.
To the left: Event Master of ceremonies, Charles Odongtho. To the right: Muhame Giles, the CEO of Chimpreports, an online publication, who was one of the panelists who discussed the topic “Journalists under digital siege.” (Photos: Christopher Zziwa)
The Department of Journalism and Communication, Makerere University in Uganda has hosted a one week session of the Rig Press Freedom project.
Some of the participants in The Rig on press freedom posing for pictures with some of their lecturers at the former faculty of arts building at Makerere University. (Photo: Sharon Muzaki)
The reporting on press freedom focused on five countries namely; Rwanda, Zimbabwe, South Sudan, Germany and Burundi.
Thirty three final year journalism students participated in the project. They were divided into five groups, with each group focusing on one country. The five groups of students were supported by five local teachers and one support teacher, Dr. Florence Namasinga Selnes from Oslo Metropolitan University.
Students of journalism at Makerere University attending a lecture about press freedom. The lecture, given by Florence Namasinga Selnes focused on the state of freedom of the press in the world in general and in Uganda in particular. (Photo: Sharon Muzaki)
The main task of the participating students was to write news stories on the media freedom environment in the assigned countries. The project started on Friday 22, April with a lecture to students and staff of Makerere University on Press Freedom that was given by Dr. Namasinga Selnes.
According to the participants, the project has been very beneficial and full of experiences, making it a better orientation into the journalism practice.
Some of our students discussing Rig stories. (Photo: Gerald Walulya)
“I have learnt how to report international stories. I have received exposure of how to relate with international sources, “Rehema Namagembe, one of the participants said. “My participation in the Rig has helped me to build confidence in interviewing people on phone and making thorough research on stories outside Uganda,” Daphine Nakabiri, said. Another participant, Gloria Irankunda said: “I got to know that media houses in most African countries operate under hardships in form of threats and physical assault.”
The Head of Department of Journalism and Communication, Dr. Aisha Nakiwala spoke of the students experience with the Rig as enriching in terms of helping students to appreciate the press freedom environment in other countries.
The project was sponsored by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the Journalism & Media international Centre (JMIC) of Oslo Metropolitan University. This is the second time the Department of Journalism and Communication, Makerere University has hosted this project. The first Rig project was conducted in 2018.
“What does two degrees Celsius actually mean to people? Information and debate are dominated by national governments, large enterprises, scientists, and academia. Our community’s experience has been ignored; and left out of the search for solutions.”
My Climate Change Story is a project initiated by the International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT) to collect climate change vignettes from the people experiencing climate change first-hand and working together to protect the environment to make a difference. Submissions will be uploaded to My Climate Change YouTube Channel to begin a global discussion.
On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, May 3, 2022, a virtual event to discuss the democratization of climate information is organized with support from JMIC. In the first part of the webinar, two small videos will be presented. It will be followed by a panel of experts who will speak to the UNESCO theme and climate journalists.
Sasha Chavkin, of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project and the Columbia Journalism Review, has reported “Many of the countries that have seen the most violence against environmental defenders in recent years also rank near the bottom of the World Press Freedom Index.” Journalists must feel confident and safe to report their stories for the greater public good.”
The Journalism & Media International Center in conjunction with the Department of Journalism and Communication, Makerere University, Uganda have conducted a four-day webinar on safety and security of journalists.
JMIC safety trainer Abeer Saady teaching.
The webinar was attended by 49 final year journalism students and early career journalists from Uganda. The training sessions that started on Monday, 7th March were concluded on 10th March, 2022.
Dr. Ivan Lukanda spoke on behalf of the Head of Department
Dr. Ivan Lukanda, who spoke on behalf of the Head of Department, noted that the training is crucial for young journalists, because it enables them to know what to do when they are attacked so that they secure their safety. He commended JMIC for its continued support towards the Department that has enabled them to prepare their students.
The webinar was facilitated by both local and international facilitators. Local facilitators included, Claire Muhindo, the online content manager of Africa Centre for Media Excellence, a local media support organisation and Tabu Butagira, the Managing Editor of Nation Media Group – Uganda.
Other trainers included, Abeer Saady, a recognised safety trainer associated with Journalism & Media International Center and Marte Høiby, a Senior Research Scientist at SINTEF Digital, Norway.
Marte Høiby is a Senior Research Scientist at SINTEF.
Claire Muhindo told participants that journalists should be cautious of their safety digitally, physically and other aspects, because unsafe journalists cannot tell good stories.
Muhindo 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.
Tabu Butagira shared with participants his safety and security experience as a journalist in Uganda. He warned participants against sharing a lot of information about their lives and family on social media platforms because this information can be used by wrong elements to their disadvantage.
“Nothing posted on the digital platforms that cannot be accessed, if wanted. If you don’t want to be recorded anywhere, don’t write. People put [photo] albums on their social media platforms, hence leaving digital footprints.” Butagira said.
“You will never know when you will write a story that will put you into trouble. Always ask yourself if what you are putting on your social media is the right information, and what are the risks? You will see no danger to upload anything, until the danger comes, and it will be too late.” He warned.
Abeer Saady took participants through a host 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.
Jill Ainebyoona, an early career journalist who was one of the participants said that the webinar had polished his knowledge about safety and security.
“The workshop has opened my eyes about the danger of exposing ourselves through what we post [on social media] and I will continue distancing myself from that practice,” he said.
Susan Nakangwe, another participant said “As a result of the webinar training, I’m in position to protect myself in case of a crisis. I would know when to step aside as well as when to approach the crowd to pick key information. Also, I learnt the essence of wearing protective gear while reporting.”
Department of Communication & Digital Media at An-Najah National University (NNU) concluded the five day workshop The Rig on press freedom in the Arab world Thursday 6 January 2022.
The students with their certificates.
The workshop was organized in cooperation between NNU and OsloMet – Oslo Metropolitan University. The implementation was supervised by the teachers Farid Abudheir, Dalal Radwan, Ibrahim Okkeh, and Ayman Al-Masry.
42 students from the Department of Communication & Digital Media and the Department of Radio & TV participated in the workshop. This workshop comes within the framework of cooperation between the two universities in the field of media and communication, which dates back to 1999.
Students with some of their teachers.
The workshop aims, according to the workshop coordinator, Farid Abudheir, to raise the level of knowledge and awareness of media students about the concept of press freedom and its reality in the world in general, and in the Arab world in particular, where students work over five days to research issues of violations against media and journalists in various Arab countries. Abudheir adds that the workshop also aims to strengthen the concepts of media ethics among the journalism students, the most important of which are: Obtaining firsthand information from sources, verifying the validity of information, in addition to making balance in building news stories, as well as using data journalism tools in searching for information, filtering and using it in media materials in the framework of credibility, accuracy and fairness.
Students waiting in the sun.
This workshop is distinguished in its topic and implementation mechanism. The Rig on press freedom was invented by Professor Elisabeth Frey from OsloMet, who participated in implementing it at NNU in 2017 and 2019, while she was unable to participate in the workshop this year with her colleague Mathias Falch due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The distinction of this training workshop lies in the fact that it is based on mechanisms of taking students from theoretical academic education to practice outside the class, transferring the student from the limited local field to the wide global arena, as well as moving the student to the digital space and employing modern techniques in building the journalistic story.
At the closing session of the workshop, Farid Abudheir, thanked everybody at NNU and OsloMet contributing to the success of the workshop. He also thanked Ruben André Johansen, Second Secretary at the Representative Office of Norway to the Palestinian Authority, for attending the ceremony and participating in honouring the students.
Students presenting their work.
Ruben André Johansen said that the declining state of press freedom in the world requires strong, principled and experienced journalists. He added that the independent press is one of the most important elements in a democratic society, which is why Norway supports projects that focus on press freedom, including the Rig on press freedom workshop at NNU. He thanked the organizers of the workshop for inviting him to attend the closing session of the workshop, and congratulated the teachers, professors and students on the successful completion of the workshop.
Mr. Raed Al-Dabai, the NNU President’s Assistant, emphasized that freedom is a great value, and that media freedom is an essential component of the values for development and progress, and that NNU appreciates the idea of the project and the value it defends, which is the freedom of the press. Al-Dubai thanked the partners in Norway and OsloMet University for their efforts in making these projects a success, looking forward to more cooperation and achievements in the coming days.
Roaa Al-Khuffash, who spoke on behalf of the students, expressed her and her colleagues’ happiness with the Rig and its successful completion. Al-Khuffash added that the value of the Rig lies in taking student away from the usual stereotypical style of teaching, since it broadens the students’ perceptions of press freedom in the Arab world, integrating students in media field work, and makes the student bear the responsibility of the information s/he transmits in his reports.
Israa Subuh with Ruben André Johansen, Second Secretary at the Representative Office of Norway to the Palestinian Authority.
It is noteworthy that the presentations of the students’ achievements before the concluding paragraph included a brief by each student’s about the story he/she worked on during the Rig, its importance, the methods he/she used in building the story, and the challenges he/she faced. This was followed by an evaluation; a discussion of the students’ performance.
Certificates issued by OsloMet and NNU were distributed to the participating students. The final outcome of the Rig will be the publication of all stories in a newspaper soon after the Rig.