BBC World Services Trust forBetter reporting on coming elections in Yemen [Archives:2005/858/Local News]

July 11 2005

Around 200 reporters and editors from the Yemeni printed press, radio and television will benefit from training of election reporting, funded by the British Embassy in Sana'a. The US$ 650,000 training program is designed to prepare the media for improved coverage in the lead-up to the 2006 elections.

The training aims to provide participating journalists with high-quality practical techniques of reporting on elections in an objective, fair and accurate manner. The training is being organized by the BBC World Services Trust in partnership with the local civic rights NGO, the Civic Democratic Initiatives Support Foundation (CDF). A series of media symposia, training courses and on site consultancies will be held across Yemen for one year. Participants will include journalists from government-owned, opposition and independent media outlets.

The funding is coming from the British Government's Global Opportunities Fund, which is also funding several projects in Yemen to strengthen the rule of law, promote good governance and increase the participation of women in decision making.

In this regard, the British ambassador Mr. Michael Gifford, along with the Mr Jaldeep Katwala, Training and Development Manager at BBC launched on Wednesday 6 July 2006 and signed an agreement of the project.

Commenting on the new project, the British Ambassador, Mr. Michael Gifford, said “The BBC's global reputation for excellence is well-known, and I am delighted that the BBC World Service Trust is our partner organization for this project. Raising the professional standards of the Yemeni media, especially in the context of reporting next year's elections, is a key part of Yemen's democratization process. We are not here to impose any western, BCC or British model on Yemen. But what we want to do is to raise the professional standard for media people and how to cover the coming electoral elections fairly and properly. I think it is one the biggest project we have done in terms of money. But the money is not important, the most important is the outcomes.”

Dr. Phil Boyle, political, press and project secretary at British Embassy, said ” The BBC in the UK are very keen to help out and train the journalists in Yemen. There are excellent journalists in Yemen but they have not been exposed to training and because the 2006 elections are coming up we along with BBC expertise thought to help them and train them how to cover the elections in an objective, fair unbiased way We will train Yemeni staff then they will train the other people. So we can keep the flow of information going from a journalist to journalist.

We think that Yemeni journalists should have the opportunity to learn from experts from BBC. We use this program to try to help out the Islamic countries to develop good organizations in their countries to build a good self society to participate in all aspects of country run. We wish this project to be successful and hope to see high-standard of reporting later on.”

Mr. Jaldeep Katwala, Training and Development Manager at BBC, gave a brief account about the project” I am project director responsible for training and development. I am here really to establish ground work for the project. After weeks we will appoint a project director based in Yemen to carry the project out and the trainers will be brought in after that. The procedures will take place by a 4-media symposia in September then we will have raining editors and then journalists.

We aim to train 220 across Yemen to help them improve electoral coverage. Election reporting is what we want to help some people to do it in objective, balanced impartial reporting, how to cover election process, probably how to do with pressure of political parties for example, how to operate enough fair reasonable way. We work with CDF which was very close to monitoring the previous elections in the country. It is very important that we are not here to tell Yemeni journalists how to do it, we are here to offer our experience. We are here to help the Yemeni journalist to find their own way working and to find the best means of operating in this context. We are here to learn as much as we can. We know that there are substantial journalists here and we want to make them better. “

Mr. Abdualmajeed AL-Fahad, the head of CDF, also expressed his happiness about the launching of the project” The last elections witnessed a lot of problems and now we have the coming local and presidential elections and the aim of the project to train the media people how to cover peacefully and in a logical way.”