By Nicoletta Metri
Journalists are often at the frontline of emerging digital issues – whether they’re protecting a free press or the privacy of their sources – and they can have a powerful voice in shaping the Internet’s future. Which is why the Internet Society Tanzania Chapter, with the support of the Internet Society Foundation and its Beyond the Net Small Grant Programme, organized the session “Journalist Training Workshop on Multi Stakeholders Structured Internet Governance and Gender Digital Divide.” The event was held on 19 June 2019, at the Holiday Inn Hotel in Dar es Salaam.
Nearly 30 journalists attended, and this was just one of many enthusiastic comments shared by a participant:
“I have learned that Internet Governance can’t be managed by a single organization. It requires effort from every institution and individual. We are all keepers of the Internet. I am ready to take action, and I have started by joining the Internet Society.”
— Fadhil Akida, HabariLeo Tanzania Standard Newspaper Ltd.
The Tanzania Chapter training provided Tanzanian journalists with information they can share on a multi-stakeholder approach as the optimal way to make policy decisions for an equal and globally-distributed network. In addition, the Chapter trained journalists on the digital gender gap and possible solutions for greater digital inclusion of women and girls in their country.
We asked project manager Nazarius Nicholas Kirama to share more about this successful project.
How did you train the journalists?
The current debate on Internet Governance can’t be understood outside the broader historical context of the Internet’s development. We invited Damas Makweba, an Internet Governance expert from the Dar es Salaam Institute of Technology, to provide information about the story of the Internet Governance and explain why the way the Internet is governed is of strategic importance to modern society. We wanted the participants to be aware that the evolution toward a genuine multistakeholder approach will depend on whether all stakeholders, including the media, were ready to accept responsibility for their actions in the global Internet community. Marcela Lungu, executive director of TIBA, an NGO organization, focused on the gender divide and the Internet ecosystem providing data on the digital gap in developing countries like Tanzania. Her presentation enhanced the journalists’ ability to use the right information when writing about women issues.
Did you create a networking tool to help the communication between the Chapter and the media?
Our initial aim was to implement a simple database by collecting the journalist names, phone numbers to call them back to cover our activities and events, but in the end, the result was more than we asked for. We implemented a platform called “ISOC Tanzania Journalists Forum” with its own WhatsApp group that helps with daily interaction and updates on Internet issues. The journalists became all active members of the Internet Society and the Tanzania Chapter. We also agreed to plan future activities and events that will recruit more journalists into the platform.
How far are you from the goal of recruiting 250 new members?
We have 162 new members. We are short of 88 members to reach our goal, but the recruitment process is ongoing.
How many articles have been published thanks to the workshop?
All the journalists volunteered to write stories about the Internet Society and our workshop. We had more than ten stories in different local media, online blogs, and online TV. Two interviews with national radio broadcasters and one interview with national television. Except for Daily News and Citizen Newspapers, all the stories were in Kiswahili language.
“The workshop opened my eyes in so many ways. I didn’t know that organizations like the Internet Society existed in Tanzania. Now I’m aware of the importance of every stakeholder to play a part in making the Internet better for everyone. I know where to get real content about the Internet for my Alasiri Show at Clouds FM. Thank you, Tanzania Chapter, for organizing the workshop!”
— Jacqueline Komba, TV Presenter, Clouds Media Group
Listen to Nazarius Nicholas Kirama’s interview with Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation: