West African journalists trained on internet security, ICTs

By Kemo Cham – The West Africa Journalists Association (WAJA) has set in motion a scheme aimed at equipping journalists with crucial knowledge in a largely overlooked area that has revolutionized journalism elsewhere in the world – Information Communication Technologies.

Over 30 journalists, mainly editors and website owners, Friday completed a three day training of trainers workshop on the theme ‘Journalism, Internet Security and ICTs for Development.

The main objective of the scheme, according to the West Africa Journalist Capacity Building project (WAJA –CBP) which organized the workshop with sponsorship from the ECOWAS Commission, is to improve capacity and awareness of journalists on the reporting techniques for web, concepts of internet safety and web 2.0.

The idea entails creating a pool of journalists from the WAJA member countries trained to using ICT as a tool to equip the wider journalist community to work more efficiently.

“This is an activity that dwells on an area of deep concern for me personally and the Association in particular – capacity building of the media in West Africa in the area of ICTs,” WAJA President Mohamed Garba said at the official opening ceremony, Wednesday February 2, in the Malian capital Bamako.

Mr Garba expressed his organization’s great concern that a majority of West African journalists were unaware of the many impacts, advantages and disadvantages of the surge in information communications technologies. He said the training therefore demonstrated their recognition of the dire need for the training and awareness raising of editors, journalists and media owners in the area.

“We also anticipate that this session which brings together 23 (regional) and 10 national participants who at the end of this workshop will serve as trainers will help strengthen the leading role which WAJA has played and continues to play in defense of and the protection of journalists,” he said.

The three day mainly interactive sessions saw the participants, drawn from the 16 WAJA member countries, introduced to basic concepts on information security and the internet, web 2.0 tools such a wikis, blogs, facebook, twitter, etc.

The training culminated in the introduction of the participants to the newly created WAJA websites, which incorporates, for the first time, country blogs for the respective member unions and Associations.

“We must take ownership of this website by assuming a leading role in running it… to do so and reflect the dynamism of the organization,” WAJA 2nd Vice President Peter Tiergou Dabiré, told participants at the certificate awarding ceremony on Friday.

“We are hoping to count on you to help train other journalists in your respective countries,” said the Coordinator of the Bamako based WAJA Capacity Building Project, Ndey Tapha Sosseh, who reiterated the desire of the WAJA executive to equip all journalists in the region with all the necessary expertise needed in perfecting their profession. She urged the beneficiaries to pursue this in line with the objective of the workshop, which is to extend the knowledge gained within their respective countries.