Maldives Media Training: A Mixed Start

Bringing change to an emerging democracy is hard work and the first day of the training program on The Role of the Media in Election News Coverage had its highs and lows.The kickoff ceremony included messages from the Maldives Broadcasting Commission and the US Embassy in Colombo.

CIMG9936Public Affairs officer Chris Elms reminded the young journalists that they will determine their country’s future, starting with the crucial presidential election that is currently scheduled for early September 2013. Sun radio and VTV also interviewed me about the goals for the training.

Talking about the crucial role of journalists in election coverage.

Talking about the crucial role of journalists in election coverage.

(Post updated Feb. 4 with apologies for the earlier error). The training was designed for TV and radio news managers and senior reporters. At first it appeared that the public service broadcaster MBC had declined to participate. No TVM journalists had picked up their badges by the end of the first day. However, two excellent journalists from MBC joined the group later and completed the certificate.  Some of the most spirited participation came from representatives of the broadcasing, human rights and election commissions. MNDF and Maldives Police were also represented. Raaje TV, VTV, DhiTV, Sun Media and Haveeru sent some excellent journalists.CIMG9946

To reach larger numbers of Maldivian broadcasters, you have to visit them in their workplace. There was a good turnout of about 20 broadcasters at private stations VTV and Dhi-TV. Over three days we also visited TVM, Raaje TV and Sun Media.CIMG9969Journalists viewed examples of issue-oriented and voter-centered election news coverage from the US and discussed the possibility of such coverage in Maldives, where the news amounts to little more than politicans’ talking heads.CIMG9976

It’s also interesting for me to see first hand how Maldives media is evolving, such as the TV-Radio hybrid station DHI-FM plus. Fingers crossed for better attendance on Day 2, with more station visits also on tap.

In this jam-packed schedule it was nice to have an evening in a Maldivian home. My best meal in Maldives was home-cooked and shared with the family of Heena Walid, who also happens to be a world-class journalist. Thanks for the warm welcome.CIMG9929