Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Central Asia: Feb ‘08

IWPR relaunches regional news agency and hosts workshops for young Tajik and Kyrgyz journalists.
By IWPR
The partial resumption of IWPR’s much praised regional news analysis service, NBCA, was the highlight of the Central Asian team’s activities in February.



With initial 12-month support from the National Endowment for Democracy, the daily, multilingual service began Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan coverage in late February. With no independent media and highly repressive governments, there’s a noticeable information gap compared even with the neighbouring countries of Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.



In the initial phase of the NED-supported project, the IWPR team in Central Asia is renewing its contacts with NBCA reporters and analysts, organising workshops intended to strengthen the contributors' network, as well redesigning the website www.nbcentralasia.net.



One Uzbek media commentator cooperating with this project welcomed the first few reports from NBCA, saying the most closed countries in the region "are in dire need of such analytical coverage, where expert community works under difficult conditions".



Inga Sikorskaya, IWPR's Turkmen and Uzbek editor, said, “The information scene in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan is not getting any better and NBCA sees as its goal to support objective analytical coverage of events in these countries, and help local and other readers better understand local developments.”



On February 23-24, IWPR held a regional workshop in Osh, Kyrgyzstan, for 13 trainee journalists from the southern regions of Kyrgyzstan and the northern Soghd region of Tajikistan.



The workshop, led by RCA regional editor Elina Karakulova and programme director Kumar Bekbolotov, is part of an ongoing effort to diversify the IWPR contributor network in these countries.



The trainees were students of journalism departments at Khujand State University, Osh State University, Jalalabad State University, and journalists from the Pravo Dlia Vsekh human rights publication and Kyrgyz ElTR public television.



Another February workshop was hosted by the Dushanbe office on February 22-23, with the event was held for the first time in the Tajik language, for 15 participants.



Since Russian is losing its influence as a lingua franca in Tajikistan, IWPR seeks, as in this workshop by IWPR editor Lola Olimova, to provide Tajik-language media instruction and reports in Tajik.



The majority of the participants were journalism students from local universities, as well as several correspondents from the state new agency Khovar, magazine Central Asia and Caucasus and the Ovoza newspaper



Sharif Attovulloev, a student at the Tajik State National University, and correspondent for the Centre of Journalism Investigation, said he was impressed with the workshop.



"In two days, I learned as much information about internationally-accepted standards as in three years of study at the university. Such courses must be included at the journalism faculties," he said.