Afghani Journalists Gear up for Elections

Posted by PrabhasPokharel on Aug 17, 2009

As Afghanistan's second democratic elections nears on August 20th, journalists are gearing up for fair and accurate reporting. The NGO Nai and the media development organization Internews have trained journalists and civil society workers over the past few months in fair and accurate reporting. Training includes, according to Internews, "active learning practices, the understanding of regulatory information on all aspects of the elections, and the importance of fair reportage."

A trainer describes that "the purpose of these training workshops is to educate local media about the importance of their role for transparency of approaching elections, by making impartial, fair and accurate reports," and that "training includes the media code of conduct, complaint filing procedures, polling and counting processes and security of media in the field." Training also involves linking civil society organizations more closely to journalists. More information about the trainings is here, here, and here.

The articles do not mention any training that involved social or mobile media, however. Here at MobileActive we think that such trainings would be helpful as an explicit part of journalist trainings. The New York Times expects at least some unrest. One has to read no further than this report on the 2009 Iranian elections to see the importance of social and mobile media in election processes.  And, of course, we have written estensively in previous blog entries on the role of mobile technology in election monitoring.

It seems like the US security forces have realized the importance of cell phones and radio in dissemination of information, however. A $150 million proposal is floating around to create a unit that would help local radio stations, counter militant broadcasting, and bolster cell phone networks in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Taliban is reported to shut down cell phone service during evenings, and the US is looking at providing various incentives to keep these open--including installing cell phone towards in Western army bases. Training journalists to use technologies is to be part of the unit's goals, as is the focus towards information sharing among locals and nationals rather than broadcasting information just from US sources.

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