Media workshop focuses on objective and balanced reporting


29-August-2012

The workshop in progress

The one-day gathering at the Care House was attended by representatives of most local media, the Seychelles Media Commission and public relations (PR) officers linked to various agencies and diplomatic missions.

Media speaker Elizabeth Bryant from the US embassy in Port-Louis, Mauritius was the main facilitator. Also present were the Embassy’s PR officer Vanessa Harper and information assistant Arabella Seebaluck.

The workshop discussed general reporting, interviews, opinion polls and other aspects or journalism.

Ms Bryant stressed the need for objectivity in reporting, saying that citing the sources of information for any news item is important to back it up for credibility.

She said that as far as possible, there should be both sides to every story.

“As journalists, you are the eyes and ears of the public, to shed light on the society that we live in, and it is of paramount importance that credibility is not compromised in any way,” she said.

She admitted, however, that this is not always possible when journalists are working for the official media or publications owned by political parties.

“They then operate under great pressure and find it difficult to produce balanced reports.”
Ms Bryant urged journalists involved in covering political activities to avoid becoming members of any political organisation.

Likewise, those covering sports should not be members of any particular sporting club to avoid conflicts of interest.

She noted that she has worked as a consultant for the World Food programme (WFP) and is not involved in any coverage of activities run by this organisation.

The delegates also discussed the role of political publications. There was considerable debate about whether they served as a vehicle to present their party agendas, or were more a vehicle to ridicule opponents.

Another issue was opinion polls which delegates found difficult to conduct in a small country as Seychelles.

It was suggested that an opinion poll should not be a blanketed one, but should cover several issues at the same time to produce a fair assessment of the situation and that non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are the best agencies to conduct them.

For the afternoon session, the delegates were divided into working groups and were urged to come up with topics likely to become major electoral issues.

The main issues of concern as seen by the journalists present included: need for restriction of land sales to non-Seychellois; increased water storage capacity and social ills affecting society.

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