IFPRI project hosts training on journalism ethics in agriculture

Participants from the June 2017 media training in Salima

[*Original blog post published on Feed the Future’s Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy website, written by Paida Mpaso, NAPAS: Malawi's communication specialist.]

In an effort to improve the quality of journalism and reporting of agricultural issues in Malawi, the Ministry of Agriculture Irrigation and Water Development (MoAIWD) offered the latest in a series of media training workshops, “Journalism Ethics in Agriculture: Avoiding Fake News,” held from June 19-22 in Salima, Malawi.

The workshop was led by the New Alliance Policy Acceleration Support (NAPAS: Malawi) project, an initiative jointly implemented by IFPRI and Michigan State University, with support from U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The media training was officially opened by Mr. McCallun M.M. Sibande, Director of Administration in MoAIWD and was attended by about 40 journalists from different media houses across the country, in addition to representatives from Malawi’s Ministry of Information, Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA), Malawi Economic Justice Network, and IFPRI, among other attendees.

The workshop presentations ranged from a panel discussion on the pitfalls of using media for advocacy, a discussion led by the Ministry of Information on how government interfaces with the media, and perspectives from community radio stations on evidence-based reporting of agricultural issues. Following two days of presentations and discussions, the journalists participated in two days of field exercises to apply their learning.

Following an activity on message-distortion, Sera Makondetsa, a journalist at the Daily Times, Malawi’s leading private media house, emphasized the need to not only balance stories, but also cross check facts as fake news could be disastrous. “This [activity] is an eye-opener because it teaches us the basics, what to do and what not to do. In most cases, a story changes a great deal along the way from when we first heard it, and if we don’t cross-check facts, it becomes a problem because that’s how fake news [stories] are created,” she said.

In a presentation led by NAPAS: Malawi’s Senior Program manager and policy analyst, Athur Mabiso, the group discussed tough subjects, such as the ethics of dealing with anonymous sources, or leaked or classified information.

Participant Kingsley Jassi, a business and agriculture journalist from Rainbow Television, shared, “There are many reasons why the media might want to write fake news,” but he added, “truth matters, and it’s important to cross-check each and every [piece of] information that lands on our fingertips to avoid fake news.”

** All inquiries about this, and future, media trainings may be directed to Ms. Paida Mpaso, NAPAS: Malawi's communication specialist.



Workshop presentations (click on links to download):


In the news

Below is a sampling of news stories published in various outlets following the media training:

Journalists Urged to Avoid Fake News, Zodiak Online, June 20, 2017
Journalists Trained in Ethical Agricultural Reporting, MBC, June 20, 2017
Journalists Drilled on Ethical Agriculture Reporting, Mana Online, June 20, 2017

Malawi Government Communication Policies under Review, Nyasa Times, June 21, 2017
Govt Communication Policies under Review, The Nation, June 21, 2017