Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Challenging stories on gas and press freedom

The journalists have today spent almost the whole day doing research exercises either on gas projects in Mtwara on the southern coast of Tanzania, or about the freedom of the press in Tanzania and challenges to it.

Here are the exact assignments they were to choose from:
Gas in Mtwara
Foreign companies from several countries are exploring for natural gas in the Mtwara region, and a gas pipeline is under construction.
Explain the whole process. What are the potential benefits for Tanzania? How have the local people in Mtwara been involved? What challenges are there?
Search for facts and figures and background information from Tanzanian and international online resources. Write a feature story and publish.

Press freedom in Tanzania
Write a story to an international audience about the challenges to press freedom in Tanzania today.
You can take into consideration the existence of any kind of censorship of the media, threats, attacks or banning of the media, access to information, lack of resources or skills, media ownership, and the salaries of journalists.
Read and refer to articles and other resources found online. Also provide links.
These assignments were of course pretty challenging due to the wide scope of the topics and the limited time available. We talked much about not copy-pasting anything from the web, but rather making notes to the notebook, or printing out some pages and underlining passages from the source texts, in case that a printer is available.

Another difficulty is to be able to write a nice and compact story out of all the material, a story with a good beginning, an interesting middle part with more detailed backgrounds, and finally reaching a fascinating conclusion. This is still something to work on, but at least one point got home: Journalists in Tanzania should have much more time to search for information for their stories from the web – and also more time for the actual writing, first preparing a draft, and only after that proceeding to write the final story, not forgetting to also spend enough time editing the outcome.

For the challenges to press freedom in Tanzania, see the articles of Grace Ruhinda, Musa Leitura, Habibu Mawenya or Zulfa Musa. Or if you know Swahili, you can also see the text by Baraka Ole Maika.

For stories on gas production and gas exploration in Mtwara, here’s the posting by Nehemiah Rubondo, and here’s another article by Marko Gideon.

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