Improving the Quality of Journalism in Malawi

Paida Mpaso -NAPAS: Malawi

For the past three years, since 2015, the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development (MoAIWD) through the Department of Agricultural Extensions Services (DAES), with the support of the New Alliance Policy Acceleration Support (NAPAS) project, began engaging the media on issues of evidence-based agricultural journalism and reporting. As part of these efforts, four trainings workshops were conducted between 2015 and 2016. In addition, a media interface meeting with Media Chief Executives was also organized on 4th December 2015.  The purpose was to brief the CEOs about MoAIWD/NAPAS’s planned journalist trainings and to develop a relationship between media houses and the MoAIWD. A total of 23 CEOs/their representatives including six women, attended the meeting.

The first training, which was held from the 15th–16th February 2016, at Mount Soche Hotel, Blantyre, Malawi, brought together leading media houses and key stakeholders in the agriculture sector for agriculture policy communication training. A total of 36 participants (13 female), participated.

See The Nation, February 16, 2018 article: Improve Agricultural Reporting, Govt asks media

The second journalist training was from 18th–22nd April 2016, at Mount Soche Hotel, Blantyre, Malawi. The training was jointly organized with the University of Pretoria. A total of 24 (11 females) participants were trained. The training enhanced the journalists with skills to not only identify their role in policy processes, but also be able to communicate emerging agriculture issues for better impact. Find more information about the trainings: Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy Research Brief 35.

The third training was titled, Agriculture Ethics: Avoiding Fake News. The training addressed ethical issues in dealing with anonymous sources, leaked or classified information. The following activities also ensued; a panel discussion on the pitfalls of using media for advocacy, a discussion led by the Ministry of Information on how government interfaces with the media, and perspectives from community radio stations on evidence-based reporting of agricultural issues. There were 33 journalists from print, radio, and electronic as well as online media. A total of 50 articles were produced by the journalists as a direct outcome of the training.

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Journalists interviewing Dr. Jean Pankomera at Chitedze Research Station in Lilongwe - Photo by Paida Mpaso

These efforts have resulted in the establishment of a Media Network on Agriculture Network, (MENA) which has over 60 members all reporting on agriculture-related issues. The Network is finalizing its registration process among others. For continuity, members of the Media Network would appreciate if more well-wishers could join efforts in furthering their skills and professional development. The contact person for the Network is Mike Kamande (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or call 265- 888-856567).

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Journalists during a panel discussion on Journalism Ethics in Agriculture
June training- Lilongwe- 2017. Photo by Paida Mpaso