Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change
Hands-On Support for Libya Election Reporting
Voting in the eastern city of Benghazi on July 7, 2012. (Photo: Seth Meixner)
Opponents of the July election destroy voter lists outside a polling station in Benghazi. (Photo: Seth Meixner)
One of the IWPR team’s key strategies since starting work in Libya earlier in 2012 has been to provide practical support where it is most useful – in working newsrooms. We work directly with reporters and editors as they commission and produce stories for broadcast or publication.
This approach came to the fore in June and early July, when IWPR trainers offered advice and mentoring to newsroom staff working at a range of media outlets ahead of Libya’s historic election to the General National Congress, an assembly charged with appointing a government and overseeing the process of transition.
Through daily editorial meetings, story budgeting, hands-on reporting training, and lively critiques of stories after broadcast or publication, the aim was to achieve a rapid improvement in election coverage.
On election day, July 7, IWPR training staff were deployed at TV and radio stations in the eastern city of Benghazi, and at the former state news agency in the capital Tripoli.
With support readily on hand, local editors and journalists were able to raise standards, generating material that was more balanced, informative and relevant than before.
“I and the chief editor have been really happy with everything IWPR has done, especially around the election, because that’s something we know very little about,” Mubrouk Aboujaafar, assistant to the chief editor at the Libyan News Agency, said afterwards. “We needed to learn about many aspects of journalism – what news is, what objectivity is, how to conduct interviews and use information.”
As well as in-house training, IWPR has been engaging with a broad cross-section of journalists outside the main cities in places like Zliten, Sabha and Yefren.
IWPR’s Libya Programme Director, Seth Meixner, is also talking to the various actors who are involved in the ongoing debate on media policy and in shaping a regulatory environment for the industry.
“Now is the time for media sector leaders to define what is a free press in Libya,” Meixner said. “IWPR is engaged in these early discussions in order to help to guarantee a lively but responsible media sector in the future.”
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