Building capacities, sharpening skills: Journalists share experience from MFWA story development bootcamps

“Being a part of this training has brought a lot of changes to my career. There were a lot of things that have been revealed, things we were not doing right and things that we were leaving out. Going forward I will add the knowledge gained so it will impact my professional career.”

“I have learnt a lot about the RTI law, mobile journalism, data journalism, and how to edit videos shot with the mobile phone. I intend to share the knowledge acquired from this bootcamp with my colleagues at my media house.”

These were the views of two beneficiaries of the five-day story development bootcamps being organized by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) across Ghana.

The story development bootcamps have so far been held in Accra, Kumasi, and Tamale this year alone. The bootcamps allow the participating journalists to brainstorm, share ideas and learn from the experiences of some of Ghana’s finest multimedia journalists. They are also avenues for the journalists to upgrade their skillsets in areas of data and mobile journalism and the production of human-interest stories.

As part of the story development sessions with the journalists, the bootcamps have also been focusing on training the participants on audience engagement and targeting, and how to use Ghana’s right to information (RTI) law to request information. The bootcamps adopted participatory engagement strategies which ensured that the participants acquired knowledge and shared experiences in group works and presentations.

Some participants doing a group work during the story development bootcamp in held in Aburi

After the five days training engagement in Tamale, Kennedy Zongbil, a reporter with A1 radio, said his takeaway had been the session on audience engagement and targeting. The session focused on how journalists can improve on reaching new audiences with their stories.

“This one-week bootcamp has been an eye-opener. Earlier journalists finish with their end products and we don’t know how to distribute them or how to disseminate the information. We have been taught how to engage with our audience for maximum impact. We have been taught how to upload videos to YouTube, how to work with SoundCloud, Vimeo and other broadcasting platforms that I think going forward would improve my audience engagement”

Fritz Dela Amegashie, a broadcast journalist with GhOne, highlighted the importance of using the RTI law to source information.  This followed a session with ace journalist and lawyer, Samson Lardy Anyenini at the Accra bootcamp.

 “I have come to understand that even if I am requesting information using the RTI law, it is critical that I indicate that the information I am requesting is for public interest. It is something that I would ordinarily not bother to include in a request. For me, it was a wake-up call”

Participating journalists presenting their stories

Sharing his expectations with the participants, media consultant, Justice Baidoo, said he believes a core group of journalists can share the wonderful stories of the Northern Region to the rest of the world.

“This training brought together some fine brains who have a great potential to do some great and impactful storytelling. I think that this investment by the MFWA would go a long way to help them move their journalism career forward and that would be good for them and the communities they work in,” Mr Baidoo said.

Kwasi Debrah who also facilitated the bootcamp was impressed by the eagerness of the participants to share ideas and contribute to the conversations. He was hopeful the participants will produce compelling features after this exercise.

“Though they were in the same area, their differing working experience made the discussions rich. Again, they were ready to listen and ask or make a lot of contributions. I’m sure after this programme, they’ll be able to do very good feature stories. They will also be able to explore all the multimedia platforms to push their stories.”

The five-day residential story development bootcamps for journalists form part of the MFWA’s project on Enhancing Citizens Access to Information and Participation in Governance which is being implemented with funding support from the DW Akademie based in Germany.

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