Back to TVM

I had mixed feelings about returning to TVM for training. In 2008 I came here to prepare the state-run broadcaster for coverage of the country’s first multiparty presidential election. Several people have commented to me on the improvements that were noted during that time, and I am honored to have played a small part in the free and fair election. Two years later it’s a very different place, and not just because of the new paint job to advertise the live coverage of the World Cup. I had high hopes after meeting with top TVM officials last week. Despite the fact they are about to be replaced by a new public broadcasting board, they seemed serious about wanting to improve the content of the newscasts. But in announcing the training sessions to the staff, the CEO was met by cynical comments from the rank and file newscasters who don’t feel their work is valued by management. Therefore, they take full advantage of liberal Maldivian employment laws which allow people to take unlimited “sick leave” when they don’t feel like coming to work. Result: only four people attended the first day of the training session. However, I was happy to see a very pregnant business reporter, Nazleena, the education reporter I trained on the earlier visit, and Ebra, one of the “new batch” from 2008 who is now covering politics. Two editors attended, Afroo and Fatimath, who have both completed college degrees in Australia and India. We discussed the role of the editors in guiding the newscasters to develop stories that go beyond press releases and news conferences. Rameez, the former news director from 2008 is now in charge of training. He and the former program director, Mondhu, made a brief appearance in the training but didn’t stay. I firmly believe the training needs to be done from the top down. If the management doesn’t take it seriouisly, no one else will. Fayez, the print editor now in charge of a TV newsroom, stayed for the whole session. And I did notice some visual improvements in the Sunday night newscasts, such as the use of graphics in a political story. So there’s a small ray of hope. I’ll hope for a better turnout when I repeat the same program on Day Two.Update: day two brought seven participants, including one who should have been there the day before, one editor and six newscasters. We had a lively discussion of story ideas on everything from human rights to climate change, but for some reason the management of TVM can’t seem to harness this energy into the newscasts. Let’s hope for better days under new management.