In the last year, NewsBridge Africa, has trained about 140 journalists, civil society practitioners and citizen journalists in two countries in Africa; Ghana and Liberia to improve their communication, writing, storytelling and investigation skills. In all instances, the objectives of the training were to enhance, deepen knowledge of participants and heighten their performance.
The journalism and communication skills training not-for-profit organization based in Accra, Ghana, did the training programmes from September 2016 to November 2017. Some of the training programmes were done with sponsorship from Tigo Ghana and the US Embassy in Accra, and in collaboration with the World Bank Ghana Country Office. NewsBridge Africa also facilitated training for organisations such as the West Africa Civil Society Institute, ACIPP West Africa, African Centre for Development Reporting and the Media Foundation for West Africa.
Established in 2014, NewsBridge Africa aims among others to promote high standards in investigations and reporting, good quality and in-depth writing, ethical and change-making journalism to influence public opinion and drive the development discourse.
Commenting on feedback from participants, the Executive Director and Lead Trainer of NewsBridge Africa, Mr. Emmanuel K. Dogbevi says, “At almost all the trainings we have conducted and facilitated, participants found much of what I was teaching to be completely new. They have been doing things in a certain way but once I dug deep into the subjects, there was always that wow moment among them.”
He notes that the training programmes covered writing skills, storytelling, social media tools, communication skills, developing the
communication strategy, health reporting, writing the opinion piece, radio journalism, business journalism, citizen journalism, fact-checking and how to pitch stories.
He says some of the participants have applied what they have learned and have found them to be useful. He said for instance some members of civil society organizations have developed their communication strategy from what they learned, while some journalists have written remarkable stories following the trainings.
Mr. Dogbevi, a Columbia University trained journalist and a Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Business and Economic Journalism at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism,who is also the Managing Editor of Ghana Business News an important source of online news out of Ghana, noted that capacity building is an urgent need in Africa, and as a communication and journalism trainer, he sees a deep need for training in communication and journalism but unfortunately, there isn’t the resources to do it.
“Most of the trainings I conducted, apart from three which were organized by myself, the rest were organized by other organizations and I was the lead facilitator in most cases. And the funding structure – all comes from international organizations and foreign governments which itself does not augur well for the way forward for Africa,” he said.
He pointed out that the entire system, in terms of democracy, human rights, information dissemination, transparency, good governance and accountability among others require skills development and there is the need to invest in developing capacities of professionals on the continent.
“As Africans, we need to pay attention to the needs of the continent, and particularly when it comes to skills development and capacity building. We need to save some money and invest in developing capacities for professionals on the continent, for activists, civil society organizations and journalists to function properly, as all these go to enhance not only our political, socio-economic wellbeing but the entire continent.” Mr. Dogbevi said.
NewsBridge Africa was established to promote ethical, responsible, balanced and meaningful journalism that serves the greater public interest through internships, mentoring and continuous training of journalists through workshops and publications.
The organization seeks to build the capacity of early to mid career journalists to do investigative, economic, business, and political reporting in a manner that meets the requirements of professional journalism.
By Solomon Otu Mensah