International Development Research Centre (IDRC) Cameroon Union of by fvd11557


									Concept Note

           International Development Research Centre (IDRC)
                     Cameroon Union of Journalists
          Media Training Workshop to enhance the Reporting of
                  Development Research in Cameroon
                           BUEA, CAMEROON

                                       16-18 March, 2010
Strengthening the Capacity of Cameroonian Journalists to report on
Development Research.

One of the central issues of today's world is the creation, sharing, acquisition and use of knowledge.
Knowledge-sharing is of special relevance to development research, which is aimed at improving
health, food production/security and living standards as a whole. Hence, development research would
be of little value if its results are effectively used to effect the change necessary to improve health,
food production and living standards.

The International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Canada‘s lead agency for
development assistance, seeks ―to reduce poverty and to contribute to a more secure,
equitable, and prosperous world‖, through development research. For this agency,
overcoming the challenge of building knowledge societies entails bridging the gaps as well as
eradicating exclusion and inequity. The IDRC has long understood that media and science
journalists have a special role to play in developing and expanding science literacy in all
cultures and all sectors of society, especially in Africa. That is why it has constantly sought to
expand the role of communications in sharing the results of development research.
The rationale is that understanding how diseases are transmitted can help prevent infections.
Agricultural technologies can improve crop resilience, increase yields and incomes for farmers. The
benefits of scientific research are many, but for people to make use of scientific breakthroughs in
various areas, including development research, they need to be informed of such advances.

 Although there has been a marked improvement in the interest the African media show in reporting
development research, the communication gap between research results and public knowledge is still
conspicuous. For example, research efforts in areas such as biotechnology and climate change, do not
receive the media coverage they deserve – either because journalists lack the specialized training they
need to report on them or their editors simply do not see the need to commission stories on
development research or programmes on the subject.

The increasing demand for articles covering HIV/AIDS, public health and environment crises pull
journalists away from adequately reporting on development research. Moreover, a new generation of
health and environment journalists has yet to realize the full import of development research and
comprehend how this sector impacts other areas such as HIV/AIDS, food security, water resources,
economic development, etc.
Contacts : 99 97 13 77 / 99 91 37 94 B.P. : 907 Yaoundé                   Courriel : Ujc_executif@yahoo.
In order to empower and equip journalists with the know-how required for effective development
research reporting, it is necessary to engage in capacity-building, through collaborative partnerships. It
is also important to support the development of professional training centers at national or regional
levels, as well as develop and promote high professional standards for journalists and other media

Such an initiative is invaluable because journalists and the news media in most developing countries
are not yet very interested in covering development research; and consequently the training of
journalists specialized in the reporting of development research has never been done on a sustainable
manner. The first reason, as we have noted, is that research results and development research news
stories face unfair competition with political and sports stories. The increasing demand for articles
covering HIV/AIDS and other public health crises also pulls journalists away from adequately
reporting on climate change adaptation experiences, for example.

The IDRC has long understood the urgent need to reverse this tendency by training journalists to take
up reporting on development research. Current levels of undernourishment and the alarming impact of
climate change in most of Africa provide justification for prioritizing the coverage of research,
especially in areas of health, environment, agricultural/food security and water conservation. The
IDRC currently runs a number of projects in Cameroon, Central African Republic and the Democratic
Republic of Congo, within the framework of its commitment to addressing development challenges. In
this regard, this agency would like to see the results of its efforts in the region shared and hopefully,
become ingredients of policy formulation.

To raise the profile of development research issues in the media, the IDRC, the Climate Change
Adaptation in Africa (CCAA) project, in collaboration with the Cameroon Union of Journalists
proposes to organize a three-day capacity building workshop for 15 journalists from the Southwest,
Northwest, and Central Regions of Cameroon. Presentations on key IDRC thematic areas such as
Micro-finance, Agrarian Reforms, Health and Climate Change will kick-start discussions on
how the media actually covers these areas and on what needs to be done to strengthen the
coverage. The workshop will build on the experiences of the workshop organized by the IRD in
Cameroon last year by capitalizing on lessons learned to forge partnerships and cooperation initiatives
in the English-speaking Regions of Cameroon.

The participants will include a ―new generation of health, environment and science journalists in
general who show interest in development communication, and who want to get involved in
advocating for greater awareness and support of development research. Two more experienced
journalists will also be invited to attend the workshop so that their challenges and opportunities could
be shared.

The workshop will be a unique opportunity to build news and feature writing skills, and provide a
better understanding of how the IDRC can, and is playing a vital role in enhancing development
research. In addition to daily tasks such as writing and researching science and development news
stories, participants will learn how to research for news stories, the editorial process and how to
negotiate for the publication of a news story.

Other aspects of the present workshop that could add value to previous initiatives include the building
of networks for journalists to share their articles within the region, and so sustain productivity; the
participation of two editors at the workshop that could make the exercise as practical as possible,
Contacts : 99 97 13 77 / 99 91 37 94 B.P. : 907 Yaoundé                     Courriel : Ujc_executif@yahoo.
                               because they could share their news selection criteria with participants;
and finally, the fact that trained young journalists could have a longer lifespan in newsrooms.

A journalist, with several years of experience in the organization of similar training sessions at
regional level will facilitate the workshop. In conjunction with this practical experience, participants
will meet with relevant officials of IDRC in Cameroon, learn about new initiatives and may also have
the opportunity to strengthen networks for lasting development news sources.

II       GOAL:

Empowered journalists from the South-and North-West regions, realizing their potential and
effectively reporting on development research; analyzing research results; and raising awareness
on these issues within the government and at the level of the general public.

By the end of the skills building workshop it is anticipated that journalists will:

             Take stock of past ―success stories‖ gained from previous workshops;
             Gain more knowledge about key concepts in development research (what is development
              research, the status of development research in the country, current support for research
              from governments, donors, NGOs etc, major initiatives in research past and present, and
              priority intervention areas);
             Understand the challenges/constraints in covering development research issues and how to
              overcome these challenges;
             Be able to write and broadcast effectively on development research by framing the issue in a
              way which stimulates dialogue and mobilizes support for development research; and
             Initiate a regional platform for information exchange on development research.

As part of the workshop‘s objective to improve coverage of development research in the national
media, we must ensure that it enables participants to produce articles that immediately acceptable for
publication. It is important indeed to have at least two editors in the workshop to get their views on the
criteria they use to select articles for publication.

In order to do this:

1) There will be a session on how journalists can best negotiate with their editors to persuade them to
accept their articles for publication.

2) The editors will have to be brought on board the initiative in one way or another in the
training; this could be in the form of a meeting with the facilitator or ‗an information note‖
addressed to them.


     1         Produce (and possibly publish, if there are funds) a series of news stories that will serve as
               best practices for participants when they return to work in their respective newsrooms.
     2         Develop radio scripts for community radio programmes.
     3         Produce and share basic documentation that will serve as a tool kit for participants. The
               documents will serve as reference material for participants, long after the workshop.

Contacts : 99 97 13 77 / 99 91 37 94 B.P. : 907 Yaoundé                        Courriel : Ujc_executif@yahoo.
      4       Produce and distribute basic information needed for a better understanding of the
              development research in Cameroon.
      5       Provide journalists with basic methodology needed to research and quickly identify viable
              news sources concerning development research.
      6       Compile a series of journalistic productions by former participants to serve as Best
              Practices. These media products (articles and radio/TV programmes) shall be graded and
              prizes awarded three (3) months after the training workshop.


Participants will be selected from a pool of emerging journalists with interests in development
research issues from South West (6); and North West Cameroon (6); Central (2);
members of IDRC research project in Cameroon (4); and the facilitator (1). This brings
the number of participants to 16.

Criteria for selection:

1) Journalists should work for a major media organization, either a major daily newspaper with a large
circulation, which runs a health and an environment page or be in a decision-making position where
they can ensure that articles on development research will appear in the media. The choice of
journalist will be important—the participant should be a journalist with verifiable interest in health,
environment, and science; so s/he will be expected to be writing on these issues non-stop. The training
will eventually be integrated into his work

2) Participants could also be members of a media network on population, health, HIV/AIDS or
education, environment etc., and produce regular articles on health. If the participant is a young
colleague, he/she should be working on the health desk of their organization, and should be able to
bring along some published material for discussion, eventually.


The 3-day seminar will be composed of three (not necessarily successive) components:

      (i) awareness-raising of development research;

      (ii) facts and figures on development research;

      (iii) media productions (see agenda).

Before the seminar, journalists shall be requested to compile information on development research in
their respective provinces.

During the seminar, journalists will be trained on how to report on development research and research
processes. Possible research topics to cover are: the place of research in the development of
Cameroon; the status of research and research institutions; IDRC and its programs in Cameroon; best
practices in development research; media and development research; how to report on research results;
analyzing research results; getting the editors to publish your articles or broadcast your program; and

Contacts : 99 97 13 77 / 99 91 37 94 B.P. : 907 Yaoundé                   Courriel : Ujc_executif@yahoo.
                          post-workshop activities. Additional information will be presented
regarding the commitment of IDRC to research assistance.

An additional advantage to have an expert from IDRC present throughout the seminar is that it would
give he/she an opportunity to see how difficult it is for journalists to understand scientific issues. S/he
could better appreciate why journalists need information fast. The seminar itself will focus on raising
awareness of challenges in reporting development research in Cameroon, providing up-to-date
information on the topic and, finally, sessions that will include a site visit; the production of articles;
and comments on the articles by facilitators and research experts.

The site visit will give the journalists an opportunity to interview researchers in Buea, probably at IRA
and surrounding areas, about their experiences in development research. The articles will be analyzed
by the other participants, facilitators and resource people for their strengths and weaknesses; and the
final version will be annex to the workshop‘s final report.

VI      Post-seminar activities

During training, a variety of methods will be used to stimulate journalists‘ interest in covering
development research. This may be a prize for excellence in reporting on development research issues.
The IDRC and other partners could award prizes to the journalist and the organization. The IDRC
should award prize for reasons of visibility though other organization may have offered the prize. For
sustainability purposes, we need to identify a national institution to award prizes and to get a senior
government official preside over the opening ceremony. All this will be discussed during the training
workshop. This type of encouragement could lead editors to create ―development research pages or
columns‖ or programs within their media houses.

After the workshop, a mentoring programme will be established to encourage participants to develop
their skills in reporting on development research issues. The mentor will be the workshop facilitator. A
listserv will be established to encourage regular discussion among members. Research story-ideas will
be discussed and topics or investigation in their respective provinces suggested to members.

The mentoring programme will be one of the major innovations in journalism training in
Cameroon in that it will help produce a concrete outcome of the training - a series of published news
stories compiled into an electronic newsletter that could serve as a best practice for other colleagues.
This product will be available three months after the workshop.

Material from the training workshop will be edited as a first edition of the newsletter, intended to serve
as a Best Practice. Well researched and written in-depth articles could be published nationally in
specialized publications, if possible. Participants shall be told that prizes would be awarded for best
stories and radio programme done after the workshop. Clippings of published stories and recordings of
radio programmes will be sent to the IDRC by editors and station managers.

Awarding prizes would incite them to do more reporting on development research. The seminar will
also show participants the need to work in groups and networks for the amelioration of research. The
main facilitators will be a journalist considered a leader in reporting on development issues, and
someone who has actually carried out similar assignments.

Contacts : 99 97 13 77 / 99 91 37 94 B.P. : 907 Yaoundé                     Courriel : Ujc_executif@yahoo.

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