This project seeks to strengthen mass media in southern Africa and increase their coverage of topical issues relating to extractive industries in the region. In this endeavour, the project intends to use innovative media training, coaching and networking to improve the understanding and abilities amongst regional mass media in specialised newsgathering and investigative journalism in the area of extractive industries. The project builds on the successes registered in two pilot projects run in October 2010 September – November 2010 that showed significant positive potential in influencing both the volume of media coverage and story angles through strategic training, coaching and networking with the region’s media practitioners. SARW has so far undertaken three training in 2010 for Congolese journalists and in 2011 and 2012 region wide training.
The initiative attempts to augment broader and more general efforts to improve the regional media’s ability to spur and sustain public debate on economic, social and political development issues as they relate to the extractive industries.
The broad efforts are premised upon growing concerns on both the regional media’s human capacity, and their generally constrained understanding and explication of critical economic and social issues. In its continuous interaction with a variety of mass media institutions in southern Africa, SARW has noted with concern the general lack of skills to effectively cover the region’s extractive industries, especially the absence of checks and balances in the policies governing the activities of these industries. In making this significant observation, SARW recognises the critical role that mass media play in society, especially in (1) providing a realm for public debate on issues relevant to the extractive industries, (2) providing capturing broad public opinion on issues and the marginal voices in particular, and (3) proactively being the watchdog on use/abuse of extractive industries and proceeds thereof. This training exclusively targets journalists working in print media and community radio stations.