Saturday, October 31, 2009

Some more pictures from class

Here are some final photos from the internet training in Mwanza this week. In this first picture St. Augustine University journalism lecturer Getrude John is using her own laptop to do her assignment earlier this week.

Mwanza Press Club officials in practical cooperation. Coordinator Victor Maleko is showing a point to legal advisor Tausi Mbalamwezi.

Here’s Noel Joram, St. Augustine University, focusing on the computer screen.

And here’s Calvin Jilala, editor of Msanii Afrika newspaper, Devota Sotel from Passion FM, and others in class. Photos by Victor and Getrude.

I want to thank all participants for being a wonderful group of partners, showing such great motivation and true professionalism through the whole intensive week of learning.

A big hand also to Marko Gideon from MISA Tanzania who tirelessly handled all the administrative and practical efforts to make the training come true.

Many thanks also to Mziray and others at the IT support who kept on pushing the internet provider during the breaks in the network flow. Thanks also to the BOT catering people for the tasty lunch buffets and the tea with bites which was always there when we needed to fill in with some more energy.

Obama stories and snake dance shots

The training ended well with nice speaches, group photos and sharing contacts. When coming out from class, the higher powers greeted us with a heavy thunderstorm, and it was raining like someone was pouring water from the bucket.

During the last day of training, the first thing on our programme was to finish writing the assignments on one of several topics suggested. After that, we spent the rest of the day with Maggid Mjengwa, who also taught the participants how to post images to their blogs.

One of the assignment topics was to search for information on Barack Obama’s childhood and write a short story about that. Here’s the link to the story by Calvin Jilala, editor of Msanii Afrika newspaper. And here’s the posting of Raymond Nyamwihula, Star TV.

Deus Bugaywa, Tanzania Daima, has written a nice review about the short travel story “He’s my Brother” by Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina.

St. Augustine University lecturer Getrude John chose the same topic and comes up with the conclusion that also Tanzanians should read and write more:
“We have to develop a culture of reading, writing and fact-finding. Wainaina here is sharing with us his experience of being in the country like Tanzania as a writer. I believe we Tanzanians too have very good stories to tell the world. We are travelling here and there within and outside the country. It is not bad to tell other people our experiences and what we learn on our trips.”
George Ramadhan from Nipashe wrote about the climate change and Mt. Kilimanjaro and posted a beautiful picture of the mountain and some elephants.

The most popular research topic was however to write about the situation of albinos in Tanzania and the on-going court trials against the people suspected of the gruesome killings. The idea was to make use of local news sources from Kiswahili language online newspapers. Here’s the story by Stella Ibengwe, Tanzania Daima, and here’s the one by Anthony Komanya, Uhuru newspaper. Both are correspondents from Shinyanga, and writing in Kiswahili.

Posting images was another highlight of the day. In most of the blogs, you will find several pictures from our classroom.

Noel Joram has also published a graduation photo of himself with president Kikwete.

The true champion of image-posting must be Mwanza Press Club coordinator Victor Maleko who has posted so many nice pictures. Here are some photos from a Sukuma snake dance performance that he seems to have joined himself too.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Blogging on fashion and football

Today we have had the whole day a guest lecturer in class, as Maggid Mjengwa has been showing to us his blog and telling how he operates it, updating pictures and comments usually several times a day.

Maggid is a long-time friend of mine from Iringa, where he is heading the Tanzania programme of the Swedish NGO, Forum Syd. But he is also a journalist and managing editor of the new weekly newspaper Kwanza Jamii. His blog is today one of the most famous and most visited blogs in Tanzania, giving a sympathetic picture of the lives Tanzanians are living in both the rural areas and in the cities. You’ll see photos of people and peculiar events wherever Maggid moves, telling a story often more worth than thousand words.

The latest pictures are from the streets and scenes in Mwanza, also called the Rock City. If you want to travel westwards from here towards Sengerema, Geita and even Bukoba, you need to take a ferry. And if you’re in Mwanza, you’ll see of course lots of fish.

Lately, there’s appeared several other interesting blogs in Tanzania, each of them usually focusing on one particular topic. You’ll find photo blogs, human interest blogs, political blogs and also blogs for publishing cartoons.

For the situation of albinos in Tanzania, see the blog of Richard Mbuthia, with latest news of the court trials against people suspected for the albino killings which stunned the country last year.

For pictures of wedding cakes and the latest local designer clothing, try the fashion blog by Shamim Mwasha, journalist of the entertainment site Darhotwire.

Another popular lifestyle blog is the one by Clouds FM radio presenter Dina Marios.

Daily News journalist Jiang Alipo maintains the Mama na Mwana blog for publishing happy photos of babies and comments about baby care.

Mzee Mwanakijiji, again, is a Tanzanian living in USA and running a podcast blog with audio recordings, on new revelations about the Richmond corruption scandal and other local topics.

My favourite is however Tuntufye Abel’s blog on football coaching, with comments and advice. Today you’ll find him being anxious about foul play and bad spectator behavior in tomorrow’s football match between the local rivals Yanga and Simba at the new National Stadium in Dar es Salaam.

African web resources

Here’s a list of some local and international websites we have visited and discussed during the previous days, useful sites not only for journalists but for anyone with the desire to find information. For Tanzanian online media, I will add some links separately to the column on the right side of the page. But here are now the other links.

Tanzania government Someone seems to have hacked the government website, so we haven’t been able to reach it this week. But as soon as it’s back to business, you will find here all statistical data of the country, national budget and so on. For reaching the different ministries, better to go directly to the section National information by topics with the giraffe image surrounded by links.

Bunge, meaning the parliament, has a good site with CV’s of all MP’s and other info, but it’s a bit too slow to open.

Tanzania Online The only functioning Tanzanian web portal, has many links that you might also easily find by googling.

Jamii Forums This is the Tanzanian discussion site, with the slogan: “Where we dare to talk openly.” Here people use to leak out scandalous documents of corruption etc. that maybe wouldn’t be published in the mainstream media.

Reuters Africa Latest news country by country updated constantly when news happen. If things at home are relatively cool, meaning no huge floods or wars or rigged elections, the site might include only week-old business news.

IPS News “Tells the story underneath!” Well written news features from the South produced by journalists from the South. The Kiswahili service you can find here.

Other international Kiswahili language news sites include BBC Swahili, Deutsche Welle Kiswahili service and Voice of America Kiswahili news, with all providing audio clips as well. Content from more than 125 African news organizations. Here you can read papers from Cameroon to Kenya. Of the Tanzanian media houses, The Citizen seems to have joined this news portal recently.

Aljazeera This satellite channel from Doha, Qatar, is today providing probably the best Africa and Middle East reporting of all the big international news channels. The website is beautiful with sharp pictures and often clever stories.

Awdal News This is a curiosity from Somaliland. Online journalism can be a great media in a country with long distances and lack of paper, as long as wireless connections are there. See also the Somalian news site with more than a hundred links to other Somalian news and other websites.

Pambazuka News Pan-African forum for social justice. Human rights activists and the best intellectuals on the continent are publishing enlightening stories on politics, development and people’s struggles.

African Elections Database Compiled by a chap somewhere out of Africa with numbers of votes, percentages and all other details from every election since colonial times.

African Journals Online On this website updated in South Africa, you can browse and read close to 400 different African scientific journals, from the social science journal Africa Development to Zimbabwe Veterinary Journal.

African Literature and Writers on the Internet A web portal hosted by Stanford University in California with hundreds of links to websites on African literature, from sites about Chinua Achebe to Zimbabwe Book Fair.

African Studies Internet Resources Web portal by Columbia University, New York. So many links that you can choose by region, country or topic.

Hello in many languages. This is one of my personal favourites. Today we learnt to greet at least in Kihaya and Nyakyusa languages and of course in Finnish. Here you can also learn to say “hallo” in about 20 different German dialects. For some reason, the local Sukuma language here in Mwanza is missing from this website altogether.

The biased reporting from Africa by the West

The last day of the training has just begun, and until the morning tea break, the class is working on some a bit more challenging research assignments to produce short feature stories on a range of topics given. Let’s see the final results later today.

New postings have been made again. I really recommend the summary from yesterday by Getrude John, St. Augustine University. She also writes about the research assignment topics the participants are now working on and the challenges given in order to find the essential information and to also avoid plagiarism.

Another wonderful commentary is the one by Mathias Byabato, Channel Ten correspondent in Bukoba. Mathias is criticizing the biased reporting of Africa by Western news media, and he also provides good links to prove his argument.

Several participants have mentioned the discussions we had about IPS News, the international news agency with a grassroots approach and always employing local correspondents. A new IPS bureau is to be opened in Dar es Salaam soon for reporting background features from the region, in both Kiswahili and English. This might of course also provide job opportunities to the Lake Zone journalists present, some of which are freelancers. For the debate on IPS, see the postings by Deus Bugaywa, Noel Joram and Albert Tibaijuka.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Some photos from today’s class

Here are some photos from the classroom today. From the left George Ramadhan, local correspondent of Nipashe, Deus Bugaywa from Tanzania Daima, next Noel Joram, Albert Tibaijuka and Getrude John, all journalism lecturers at St. Augustine University. And at the far end you can see Raymond Nyamwihula from Star TV. Many thanks to Victor Maleko for sharing the pictures.

Here’s from the right, Robinson Wangaso from Radio Victoria FM in Musoma, Jane Kajoki, correspondent of The Citizen, then Emmanuel James from Radio Sengerema, and Stella Ibengwe, reporter of Radio Shibuka FM and also Shinyanga correspondent of Tanzania Daima.

Linking up to the sources

Today we’ve done even some more searching for facts and backgrounds to feature stories, starting with how to find contacts, phone numbers or email addresses of local and international organizations and institutions. (Searching for the phone number of Barack Obama seemed to have been quite fun... Of course, you’d have to go to the White House website first and find any contact from there.)

We also searched for info for checking some facts, like editors are often doing after receiving stories from their reporters. Participants will surely remember for ever in which year Wangari Maathai received the Nobel Peace Prize, and probably also how her name is correctly spelt.

Closer to the end of the day, we made a search on how many medals African countries won in the World Championships in Athletics in Berlin last summer, and also which African, American and Asian countries still have chances to qualify to the football World Cup next year in South Africa.

And oh yes, in the morning we learnt how to make links to the postings.

See for example the several good links of St. Augustine University journalism lecturer Albert Tibaijuka right here.

And here is the latest posting by Mathias Byabato from Channel Ten, Bukoba, with many good links providing more information and a good service for his Kiswahili readers who also know some English.

Raymond Nyamwihula, Star TV, provides a link with comments to a news story about the new Attorney General proclaiming that he’s not a member of the ruling CCM party.

Media houses should empower their journalists

Good morning to all! We are back in the cool air-conditioned multimedia hall going through yesterday’s postings. For the comments of the training participants, please visit their blogs. Links to almost all are now on the right.

Getrude John from St. Augustine University says that she was surprised to notice that the local media websites were not very frequently visited by local correspondents. She concludes by suggesting that media owners should empower their journalists to be able to make more effectively use of the internet for producing more critical and analytical reports.

George Ramadhan of Nipashe writes that he’s very happy about the training and especially for learning about websites he didn’t previously access because of what he calls “internet illiteracy”.

“Keep going, George”, as Tausi Mbalamwezi, legal adviser of Mwanza Press Club, encourages him in a comment she posted to his blog.

For more about the fact-finding exercises, see the summary by Albert Tibaijuka. And if you can read Kiswahili, I recommend the report by Elieth Sekiku from Radio Fadeco, a community radio in Karagwe.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Searching for facts until sunset

The day was long today. The sun had already gone to sleep behind the horizon of Lake Victoria as I wandered from the venue back to the accommodation together with Marko Gideon, the training facilitator and information officer of MISA Tanzania.

But Mwanza town was still busy with lots of street food vendors nearby the railway station, and a nice smell of mishkaki was rising from the barbecue stalls along Kenyatta Road.

Today in the training, we moved forward to even more practical journalistic issues. In the morning, we visited some international news sites and African web resources (more about those later) and practically all Tanzanian media websites: from IPP Media, which has just renewed its site, to the weekly newspaper Raia Mwema and the newcomer Kwanza Jamii, which both are truly nice and reader-friendly by their layouts.

In Tanzania, there are now already more than 20 media outlets which have a regularly updated online site. Quite a change in a very short period, since in 2006 there were only three media houses that had their own website!

Before lunch we had a short break in the network connection, which I did my best to fill with explaining some points of email communication skills and preaching against plagiarism.

But soon the network was back again, and luckily faster than ever, so we did some exercises in searching for simple facts, names of capitals and presidents and the populations in different countries.

Twenty new Tanzanian bloggers

Participants have been very active with posting comments to their blogs.

For a good summary of what we did on Day 2, I suggest you visit the blog of Deus Bugaywa, correspondent and columnist of Tanzania Daima newspaper.

Albert Tibaijuka from St. Augustine University writes about the Wikipedia exercise we did and says that they might give it to the journalism students as assignment to compile a short briefing on the history of Tanzanian media in order to improve that section of the Wikipedia article on Tanzania.

For most participants, the most impressing part was however the opening of the blogs. Read here the feelings of Victor Maleko, coordinator of the Mwanza Press Club, and here’s what George Ramadhan from Nipashe thinks about becoming a blogger.

Most have also added links to each other’s blogs which makes it easy to network and to be able to comment on the postings of the colleagues.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Websites that changed the world

Today is the second day of the training, and we’ve been surfing quite much. The network is wonderfully fast, at least with most of the computers.

I have showed the participants some of the websites listed in an article by the British newspaper The Observer as “Websites that changed the world”.

So we have visited the American shopping site eBay, we’ve edited the grammar of the Kiswahili language article about Finland on Wikipedia, we’ve seen a funny football video on YouTube, and also explored the Google map of the local city of Bukoba and a close-up satellite image of the building where we are sitting at the moment, namely the Bank of Tanzania Training Institute in Mwanza.

The participants have also opened their blogs today, with the first introductory postings.

Noel Joram from St. Augustine University has made a good summary about yesterday’s training, about buying the train tickets and comparing information about internet usage in different parts of the world.

George Ramadhan, local correspondent of Nipashe newspaper, also comments on the statistics and the surprise that Tanzania is dragging behind the neighbouring Kenya and Uganda in the number of internet users.

For Kiswahili readers, please see the full reports of Wilson Elisha from Radio Free Africa, or Anthony Komanya, the Shinyanga correspondent of Uhuru newspaper.

On the right, you can find links to some of the participants’ blogs. I will try to link everyone there as soon as possible.

Internet training at the shores of Lake Victoria

This is my first posting from an internet training workshop in Mwanza, Tanzania. There are altogether 20 Tanzanian journalists taking part in the training, 13 people from Mwanza town and the others from Sengerema, Karagwe, Bukoba, Shinyanga and Musoma. So practically the whole Lake Zone area is represented.

Seven of the participants are newspaper editors or correspondents, some freelance. Another seven are from radio stations, including three community radios. There are also two TV journalists (from Star TV and Channel Ten) and three journalism lecturers from St. Augustine University of Tanzania here in Mwanza.

The training is organized by MISA Tanzania and VIKES Foundation, The Finnish Foundation for Media, Communication and Development, a body for international cooperation of the Union of Journalists in Finland and other media organizations. Myself, I’m a radio journalist from the Finnish Broadcasting Company, YLE Radio 1.

As writing this, we have already spent the first day of the training in a meeting room turned into a multimedia classroom at the Bank of Tanzania Training Institute right at the shores of Lake Victoria, which is glimmering in the sun just below us.

The training has begun smoothly – even though we were lacking the internet connection for some hours during the day. In the morning, we first had an introduction round. Later, I showed some statistics of internet use in African countries and the rest of the world, and spoke a bit about the history of internet and about different uses of the internet from a technical point of view. And at the end of the day, when the network was back again, we did some more practical assignments: booking train tickets in Finland and flight tickets from Dar es Salaam to Bujumbura.