Afghan Regional Journalists Get Connected

Two new IWPR media centres provide much needed training and internet access for provincial journalists.

Afghan Regional Journalists Get Connected

Two new IWPR media centres provide much needed training and internet access for provincial journalists.

Reporters friom Radio Dunya making use of IWPR's Charikar centre. (Photo: IWPR)
Reporters friom Radio Dunya making use of IWPR's Charikar centre. (Photo: IWPR)
Monday, 15 August, 2011

Fahim Fetrat has been a reporter in the Panjshir province north of Kabul, for the past five years, but lives too far away to take advantage of the training and news production facilities that fill the nation’s capital.

But in the last few months IWPR Afghanistan, with major support from the Norwegian embassy in Kabul, opened a new media centre in Charikar, the capital of the Parwan province, also north of Kabul, closer to Fetrat’s home.

The Charikar centre was one of two such facilities established by IWPR this year, the second being in Jalalabad, the capital of Nangahar province, on Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan.

So far, more than 50 journalists – including five women – from Parwan, Panjshir, and Kapisa provinces have been trained in a series of seminars, which have focused on print, online, and radio journalism.

The Parwan facility is managed by Fahim Bahir, an experienced journalist from Parwan, and Nawidullah Walizada, from Kabul, who have been hired as its coordinator and administrator respectively.

“For the past five years, I’ve been working for different media in the provinces of Panjsher, Parwan and Kapisa, but there has never been a centre for journalists to gather and network,” said Fetrat, who works for the Roz news agency.

“The opening of an IWPR office in Parwan, and the IWPR workshops, has made it easier for journalists to go about their work. It is a centre where journalists from all three provinces can share their ideas and solve problems.”

Farid Tanha, a reporter from the Pajhwak Afghan News agency in Parwan, agreed. “Journalists are really happy about IWPR’s office in Parwan province because it has good programmes that improve the skills of journalists,” he said.

“And, it’s the only office in Parwan province which has solved most of the problems of journalists in this province face. Before IWPR’s office, there was no internet, but now we can use the centre’s internet for receiving and sending of our reports.”

Farzad Khamosh, a reporter from Bahar Radio in Kapisa province, said that IWPR brought badly needed training to the provinces, which no other organisation had done.

“IWPR is not only good for improving the skills of journalists but is also good in bringing about change with their stories,” Khamosh said. “I see changes in different government offices and people’s lives from IWPR’s stories.”

The initial Parwan province training delivered basic skills training to 30 young, aspiring reporters affiliated with Radio Dunya, and was conducted by former Associated Press correspondent and bureau chief Larry Gerber.

A second workshop taught advance writing techniques for journalists who traveled from surrounding provinces to attend. It was the first time they had met each other, which allowed the new Parwan centre to fulfill its secondary purpose of being a meeting place for regional reporters.

A second round of training in multi-media journalism was conducted in early July, also in the Charikar centre, by German media specialist Martin Gerner, who worked with ten local journalists on multi-media journalism.

Ahmad Hanayesh, head of the journalists association in Parwan, Kapisa and Panjsier provinces, said that “in this region, IWPR’s office is one of the most important. IWPR introduces international standards of journalism and new technology to reporters. I hope IWPR continues its programmes and trainings, so journalists here can become even better”.

IWPR’s media centre in Jalalabad is managed by Hijratullah Ekhtyar, an experienced journalist and lawyer, and a well-respected member of the Jalalabad journalism community. The office is located on the campus of the Said Jamaludin Afghan Institute, a private education facility.

After just several months, the centre has become a focal point of local journalistic activity, and a steady flow of in-depth news reports now comes out of the region. These have attracted the attention of local media outlets, who regularly republish IWPR stories.

Ershad Raghand, a reporter from Zhwandoon Radio and TV, said that he goes to the Jalalabad centre on a daily basis, “It’s useful because it’s a secure place; in the centre of the city; and always has electricity.”

Ezatullah Zawab, head of Mina magazine in Jalalabad, said internet access allowed him to find stories for his publication. “The media centre is a good and helpful step by IWPR in east Afghanistan – reporters gain a lot from it,” he said.

Abdul Mu’eed Hashimi, head of the Committee to Protect Afghan Journalists, said his members are already asking for more training sessions. “I hope IWPR will continue its work in Jalalabad,” he said.

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