Journalists from the East Africa Community have been urged to report success stories for the citizens to know their benefits.
The remarks were made on Monday at the opening session of the media training on the integration of the EAC in Arusha Tanzania.
The training brought together over 20 journalists from various media houses in partner states of the region.
Speaking during the opening remarks, the GIZ representative and Cluster Coordinator at EAC headquarters, Marius Weist says there is a need to train journalists so that they are able to educate the citizens on the integration agenda.
He stated that the EAC integration needs the support of the region’s citizens to flourish.
Weist added that it is crucial to showcase the benefits and opportunities of regional integration, in order to gain the support of the common citizens.
“The most obvious vehicle to convey this information is the regional media – you! And there is a lot to talk about,” he stated.
Weist called on journalists to tell success stories of EAC integration.
“I find it very important to bring it to the individual level to talk about success stories about people, maybe cross border women traders, maybe youth that have been trained here at the Center of Excellent for East Africa with scholarship.”
“Maybe someone from Burundi or Uganda who then goes back and founded a company. These are the stories of EAC integration that need to be told to people about how EAC is benefiting them,” said Weist.
GIZ is a German government development organization that has been supporting the EAC Secretariat and other EAC Organs over years in terms of building the capacity of media to report accurately and objectively on the integration process in East Africa.
For her part, the Director of Social Sectors at the Secretariat, Dr. Irene Charles Isaka, commended journalists for reporting on the importance of the integration of EAC.
In a statement read on his behalf by Dr. Irene, the Secretary General of East Africa Community Dr. Peter Mathuki says more needs to be done to improve media coverage on EAC integration.
“I am glad to say that coverage of the community has improved a lot due to these engagements. But much more needs to be done.”
He pointed out that the media should undergo training on EAC integration purposely to improve their understanding of the process.
It says this is to also build their capacity to report more objectively and accurately on integration.
Dr. Muthuki says journalists are the foot soldiers who gather news on behalf of media houses on a daily basis.
He added that journalism involves lots of fieldwork meaning that journalists are always at the frontline when it comes to gathering news, priming, framing, and structuring the angle of any story.
The Secretary-General says it’s therefore important to connect directly with them in order to strengthen relations and enhance the positive coverage of EAC in the media.
The statement stated that the media play a critical role in relaying information to the public and is therefore a critical partner in driving and influencing society’s way of thinking about various issues.
It says the media shape public opinion and set the agenda for discussion in today’s society, which is largely a mediated one.
For his part, Mr. Edward Kitonsa from the Directorate of Planning at the EAC Secretariat, asked the journalists to be mindful when reporting on partner states’ commitments.
“Sometimes I read the newspapers and I see some of the reports that are made, and you ask yourself ‘OK’ yes, this information is being reported and I wish they had read the ‘ANNEX’ before blaming a partner state that they have gone against their violations. So, always be mindful when we are reporting, especially in the area of services, and capital where there was a specific commitment made by each partner state. It will not be accurate to report otherwise,” Edward said.
One of the core strategic development objectives of the 6th EAC Development Strategy 2021/22 – 2025/26 is Increasing the visibility of EAC stakeholder knowledge and awareness, and the participation of EAC citizens in the integration process.
Further to this strategic development objective, a key priority area for the five-year implementation period of the Strategy was identified thus: Promotion of awareness creation and dissemination of information on the Community.
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