Jonglei journalists discuss coverage of recent conflict

29 Feb 2012

Jonglei journalists discuss coverage of recent conflict

23 February 2012 - For the first time since independence, a dozen representatives of local and independent media in Bor, Jonglei State, met to discuss how South Sudanese reporters had covered recent disturbances in their area.

Organized by the Community Outreach unit of the UNMISS Public Information Office and moderated by Radio Miraya, the roundtable also provided an opportunity for participants to air their opinions of coverage provided by international media, and call on national authorities to trust them with more information as well as up-to-date professional and telecommunications equipment.

Members of the city press, including the governor's press staff and others working with the state Ministry of Information, said they had exerted their best efforts in producing accurate and unbiased reports about tribal incidents, but could have done more.

Difficulties in reaching far-off areas of the state, coupled with unreliable telecommunications networks, made it harder for members of the press and state government officials to collect the level of accurate information the world could have used, said participants.

That vacuum, they added, left reportorial space open for some international media to show over-reliance on national government sources, some of whom lacked the most updated information.

"Some of the international media have portrayed events in Jonglei as recent phenomena that have started since independence, ignoring the long-standing historical roots of the issue," one participant said.

To help disseminate more timely and accurate information about their state in future, roundtable participants called on the national government to foster better ties with media officials and representatives in Jonglei.

They said state journalists and press officials currently lacked training in media laws and needed hands-on print and broadcast workshops. They also called for additional equipment.

Several participants said lack of knowledge on media rights and laws had, in effect, created a self-censorship atmosphere that hampered effective reporting of events.